war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

EU imposes sanctions over torture and persecution of Ukrainian journalist Vladislav Yesypenko, Nariman Dzhelyal and others in Russian-occupied Crimea

Halya Coynash
The sanctions target two of the FSB officers involved in the savage torture of Vladislav Yesypenko and others directly complicit in knowingly imprisoning innocent men
From left Vladislav Yesypenko, Nariman Dzhelyal, Asan Akhtemov, Aziz Akhtemov Photos Crimean Solidarity
From left Vladislav Yesypenko, Nariman Dzhelyal, Asan Akhtemov, Aziz Akhtemov Photos Crimean Solidarity

The European Union has imposed sanctions on six individuals directly implicated in Russia’s persecution of Ukrainian journalist Vladislav Yesypenko, Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader and journalist Nariman Dzhelyal and others.  This is an important move, although more is needed to ensure that all of those who torture political prisoners, fabricate charges and take part in imprisoning innocent men and women in occupied Crimea know that they will be held to account.

On 8 September, the Council of the European Union published its latest amendment to its ‘Decision concerning restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses’ to include the four men and two women, all citizens of the Russian Federation who are working in occupied Crimea.  Sanctions had long been sought, in particular against Vitaliy Olegovich Vasov, an FSB ‘investigator’ who held Vladislav Yesypenko and two cousins, Asan and Aziz Akhtemov incommunicado, without access to independent lawyers, while applying torture to extract ‘confessions’ to fictitious crimes.  He has also been involved in fabricating ‘terrorism’ charges against Crimean Tatars for conversations about Islam and Russian persecution, as well as ‘extremism’ charges against Jehovah’s Witnesses Oleksandr Dubovenko and Oleksandr Lytvyniuk for discussing the Bible in a Zoom conference.

Five of the individuals, sanctioned as responsible for serious human rights violations, were involved in the persecution of Vladislav Yesypenko, two in the fabrication of charges against Nariman Dzhelyal and two cousins, civic journalist Asan Akhtemov and Aziz Akhtemov.  Both of these cases were brazen examples of lawlessness at all levels.  The EU, in particular, pointed out that “the court proceedings against Vladyslav Yesypenko targeted his activism and served as a show trial in Russia to suppress voices critical of the ruling regime in voicing opposition to the war of aggression against Ukraine. The Russian regime is using the judiciary of the country as a widespread tool in numerous serious human rights violations. The justice system is not independent and is used to systematically and severely violate the human rights of individuals opposed to the ruling regime by violating their freedom of opinion and expression.

Vladislav Yesypenko

Yesypenko was in Crimea doing commissioned work for RFERL’s Crimean Realities On 10 March 2021, he was seized by traffic police on his way to Simferopol, with the FSB then turning up and forcing him to the ground before claiming to find a grenade in his car. He was taken to a basement and savagely tortured, including with the use of electric currents passed through his body.  At some point he signed the papers they thrust in front of him, and was also forced to take part in a farcical ‘interview-confession’, saying that he had spied for the SBU.

It was typical that, despite such an alleged ‘confession’, Yesypenko was not actually charged with spying, only with a grenade which the defence demonstrated in court did not fit in the compartment where the FSB claimed they had ‘found’ it. 

Vitaliy Olegovich Vlasov (b. 1986), as the FSB ‘investigator’ in this case, bore direct responsibility for such methods, as he did for preventing Yesypenko from seeing a proper lawyer for around a month, almost certainly to ensure that the torture marks were not formally recorded.  He foisted a ‘state-appointed’ lawyer Violetta Sineglazova, who is already known from a previous prosecution to essentially work for the prosecution, not the defendant.

Denis Vladimirovich Korovin is a Russian FSB officer who took part in torturing Yesypenko.

Elena Victorovna Podolnaya (b. 1978) is the deputy prosecutor of the occupation ‘Simferopol district court’.  As prosecutor in the ‘trial’ of Yesypenko, she demanded an incredible 11-year sentence.

Dliaver Memetovich Berberov (b. 1978) is ‘judge’ at the occupation ‘Simferopol district court’.  On 18 February 2021, he sentenced Yesypenko to six years’ imprisonment.

The EU also sanctioned Viktor Viktorovich Krapko (b. 1989), now a ‘judge’ at the occupation ‘Crimean supreme court’ and a former ‘judge’ of the occupation ‘Kievsky district court’ in Simferopol.  This was for his role in the politically motivated court proceedings against Yesypenko and Dzhelyal, as well as for his part in issuing search warrants of the homes of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2021.

The sixth individual, Anastasia Ivanovna Supryaga (b. 1983), a ‘prosecutor’ for the occupation ‘prosecutor’s office of Crimea’, was placed under sanctions for her role in the earlier persecution of Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz.  Despite legally nonsensical charges, she demanded an 8-year sentence, which was duly provided by ‘judges’ Viktor Ivanovych Zinkov (presiding), Igor Igorevich Kryuchkov and Alexei Viktorovich Kozyrev from the occupation ‘supreme court in Crimea’.

Supryaga was also involved in the ‘trial’ of Nariman Dzhelyal; Asan and Aziz Akhtemov, which was clearly revenge against Dzhelyal for his part in the important Crimea Platform inaugural meeting in Kyiv on 23 August 2021.  The charges were overtly fabricated, and the only ‘evidence’ from ‘confessions’ that the Akhtemovs retracted as obtained through torture and from so-called ‘secret witnesses. 

The EU state that “Supryaga has been involved in the systematic persecution campaigns targeting the Crimean Tatar community and members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for their religious beliefs.”

While some of the above-mentioned ‘judges’ have already been placed on international sanctions lists, there are many individuals who are not yet on it, despite very strong grounds.  They include another FSB officer, Anton Gryshchenko, who also took part in torturing Yesypenko, and the so-called ‘lawyers’, appointed by the FSB who effectively worked for the prosecution, not their supposed clients.  These include the above-mentioned Violetta Sineglazova and Oleg Glushko, who was present, and did nothing, during the torture of Asan Akhtemov.

See also: Russia increases revenge sentences against Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader Nariman Dzhelyal and two cousins

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