Imprisoned for seven years as Russia's revenge for Ukraine’s Euromaidan
Andriy Kolomiyets was 22 when seized and tortured by Russian police in May 2015. Almost seven years later, he remains imprisoned in Russia, serving a 10-year sentence in revenge for Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests. For a Russian prison sentence, it was enough that Kolomiyets was Ukrainian and had been on Maidan. All else was just a question of technicalities, and of torture.
Like most of Russia’s Ukrainian political prisoners, reprisals are effectively continuing even in prison. Kolomiyets has been placed in the even worse conditions of a Russian punishment cell at least 13 times since arriving at the prison colony in the Krasnodar region. According to his wife, Galina, he was sentenced to a full year of such ‘severe conditions of imprisonment’ [SUS] late last year. This also affects how often he is allowed to have visits from his wife and receive parcels with food items, etc. It is clear from her account that Kolomiyets had been pinning his hopes of an exchange of prisoners, however the Kremlin has agreed to none since September 2019, and he is beginning to despair that he will be forced to serve the insane 10-year sentence to the last day, as did Oleksandr Kostenko, the first Ukrainian sentenced in Russian-occupied Crimea on surreal charges linked with Maidan.
Kolomiyets is from the Kyiv oblast, but was living in the Northern Caucuses of Russia with his partner (now wife) Galina and her four children when he was seized by Russian police on 15 May 2015.
Galina has recounted how the officers who turned up that day immediately told her that Kolomiyets was a Maidan activist. During the search, they ‘found’ a small package with some hashish in her ex-husband’s safe. There are legitimate grounds for doubting that the hashish was in that safe prior to the officers’ arrival, and testimony was presented during Kolomiyets’ trial confirming that he personally had not had any access to that safe.
In fact, Galina was astute enough to ensure that neither of them touched this planted evidence and the officers eventually left without recording the hashish in the protocol. Unfortunately, this was simply to mean that they resorted to even further fiction. It was claimed that Kolomiyets had been ‘released’ in Nalchik where he was supposed to have stayed the night at the station, then gone to some field by one taxi, gathered some hashish growing wild, 150 grams of which the officers then ‘found’ in another taxi that he was driving in. ‘The chances of the officers having received Kolomiyets were next to nil. Had they done so, there would have been no reason for Kolomiyets to “have slept in a field” as Galina’s sisters live in Nalchik. Galina is convinced that during this whole squalid ‘operation’, the officers used the same packet which they first claimed to have found in her ex-husband’s safe.
The supposed ‘drugs’ charge was purportedly the reason for arresting Kolomiyets, however the mention of Maidan proved very swiftly to have been no accident. Kolomiyets was taken to Russian-occupied Crimea where he became the second Maidan activist, after Oleksandr Kostenko, to be charged on the basis of ‘testimony’ from former Ukrainian Berkut riot police who had betrayed their oath and joined the Russian FSB.
It was claimed that Kolomiyets had thrown a Molotov cocktail at two Berkut officers, with this having allegedly ‘caused them pain’. Enough ‘pain’ to allow them in court to claim that they remembered Kolomiyets, though not enough for them to have reported it to anybody at the time. The prosecution was under Article 30 § 3 and 105 § 2 of the Russian Criminal Code, namely “attempted murder of 2 or more people in connection with their official activities … out of motives of political and ideological hatred”.
Despite the absurdity of the charges, Kolomiyets was sentenced by a Russian-controlled court in Simferopol on 10 June 2016 to 10 years’ imprisonment: six years for the alleged ‘attack’ on the two ex-Berkut turncoats (Article 105 of the Russian criminal code), and four for the supposed possession of hashish (Article 228).
The sentence was upheld on October 27 by the de facto Crimean High Court under ‘judge’ Halyna Redko who had already taken part in at least one other politically-motivated trial since betraying her oath to Ukraine.
Kolomiyets has given details of the torture he was subjected to, including electric shocks and asphyxiation, to force him to ‘confess’ to invented crimes. He triad complained of such torture from the outset, but was ignored by the ‘lawyers’ provided by the prosecution.
The renowned Memorial Human Rights Centre declared Kolomiyets a political prisoner on 17 July 2016. It demolished the narcotics charges against the young man, while stating simply that the main indictment was grotesque since a court under Russian legislation could have no jurisdiction over events allegedly taking place between Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine.
Please write to Andriy!
The letters tell him that he is not forgotten, and send a message to the prison administration, and to Moscow, that their actions are being followed. Letters need to be on fairly innocuous subjects (not about the political nature of his sentence, for example). If that is a problem, please copy (by hand) the sample letter below, perhaps including a photo or picture.
Желаю Вам здоровья и терпения, и очень надеюсь на скорое освобождение. Простите, что мало пишу – мне трудно писать по-русски, но мы все о Вас помним.
[Hi. I wish you good health, courage and patience and hope that you will soon be released. I’m sorry that this letter is short – it’s hard for me to write in Russian., but you are not forgotten. ]
350039 Russia, Krasnodar Krai, Krasnodar, 58 Kalinin St, Prison Colony No. 14
Kolomiyets, Andrei Vladimirovych, born 1993
[In Russian: ФКУ ИК-14, 350039 Россия, Краснодарский край, г.Краснодар, ул. Калинина, 58, Коломийцу, Андрею Владимировичу, г.р. 1993]