• Topics / Human Rights Abuses in Russian-occupied Crimea
Another Ukrainian tortured for Russian TV ‘confession’ jailed on different charges
Another supposed ‘Crimean saboteur’, whose ‘confession’ was widely shown on Russian television, has been declared a political prisoner by the authoritative Memorial Human Rights Centre after a trial and conviction that bore no relation to his confession. Hlib Shabliy later stated in court that he had said what he was told to say, under torture, and denied both the alleged crimes to which he ‘confessed’ for Russian propaganda, and the different charges actually laid. All of this is identical to the other Ukrainian arrested at the same time, Oleksiy Stohniy, whom Memorial HRC also considers a political prisoner.
As reported, news of two new arrests of alleged ‘Crimean saboteurs’ came via Russian television on 21 November 2016, for example, in a long feature presented by Dmitry Kiselyov and entitled The latest failure by Ukrainian intelligence: saboteurs failed to harm Crimea”
That this was a montage for propaganda purposes is clear from the shot on the video at around 02.09 of the ‘Dmytro Yarosh Right Sector business card’. The Ukrainian nationalist movement Right Sector has been demonized by Russia since Euromaidan, and the shot was clearly intended to ‘incriminate’ the two men. The problem was twofold. The shot was taken from an FSB video produced on 10 November 2016 of the search of academic Dmytro Shtyblikov’s flat. Secondly, the Yarosh business card has been the subject of Internet memes mocking Russia ever since the card was supposedly found back in 2014, untouched and just waiting to ‘expose Right Sector’ in a car that had been totally destroyed by fire.
Oleksiy Stohniy is claimed to be an officer of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence [HUR], while Hlib Shabliy is referred to as a Ukrainian officer, a Rank 2 captain in the Ukrainian Fleet. Stohniy works in a shop selling toys and office supplies, and Shabliy is also described as a businessman, with Kiselyov claiming that in both cases the men’s jobs were ‘cover’ for their actual activities working for Ukrainian intelligence. The reports claimed that the two men were in the same supposed ‘sabotage plot’ as three men arrested on 9 and 10 November 2016: Dmytro Shtyblikov; Oleksiy Bessarabov and Volodymyr Dudka.
At the time it was reported only that both men had been remanded in custody during a court hearing in Sevastopol held behind closed doors.
Memorial HRC has ascertained that neither man was ever charged with the supposed sabotage work and spying for Ukrainian intelligence, and none of the other men they were purportedly working with were mentioned again.
Shabliy was convicted of preparing an explosive device (Article 223.1 § 1 of Russia’s criminal code) and illegal purchase and possession of an explosive device and explosive substances (Article 222.1 § 1). He stated in court that the device and substances had been planted, and that he had been handcuffed and tied up with scotch tape, then beaten, and told what to say in front of the camera.
His assertion that he had been tortured for 24 hours was effectively borne out by the fact that he had been detained on 15 November 2016, but only formally recognized as being in custody on 17 November. This discrepancy was recorded by the court, yet ignored, and on 23 October 2017, ‘judge’ Ludmila Petrovna Tumaikina from the Gagarin District Court in Sevastopol sentenced Shabliy to five years’ medium security imprisonment and a fine of 100 thousand roubles.
On 20 March 2018, the Sevastopol City Court rejected Shabliy’s appeal against the sentence, though did remove the fine.
There had been virtually no information about Shabliy and the statement by the Memorial Human Rights Centre on 20 July 2018 is therefore particularly important. The Russian human rights group concludes that Shabliy was convicted despite the lack of any crime, and demands his release.
It writes that the supposed “fight against Ukrainian spies is one of the types of witch hunts in contemporary Russia. It is part of the political campaign directly linked with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict".
Memorial HRC declared Oleksiy Stohniy a political prisoner on 10 November 2017. As reported here, more information had become available after Stohniy’s wife Oksana was able to get to Kyiv and reveal the details of his arrest, and of his ‘trial’ and conviction on July 17, 2017 (details here).
Both Shabliy and Stohniy were born in 1975 and are married. Shabliy has one small child, Stohniy – two daughters. It was because of the younger daughter’s serious medical problems that Stohniy resigned from the Ukrainian military back in 1997, and the family moved back to Sevastopol for a better climate for their daughter and to be close to his parents.