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.

Abducted Ukrainians tortured into claiming Ukraine carried out Russia’s attack on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Halya Coynash
Oleh Morochkovsky, sentenced to 11 years for ‘spying’, was one of two Ukrainians tortured into claiming that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had attacked the largest nuclear power station in Europe

Oleh Morochkovsky on the propaganda video produced almost a month after he was seized by the Russians on 11 August 2022

Oleh Morochkovsky on the propaganda video produced almost a month after he was seized by the Russians on 11 August 2022

Two Ukrainians from Enerhodar have been sentenced by an illegal occupation ‘court’ to 11 years’ imprisonment on grotesque charges linked with Russia’s seizure of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in March 2022.  Oleh Morochkovsky and Dmytro Yevsieliev were convicted of ‘spying’ under Russian legislation for actions that would, if they had taken place, been entirely legitimate behaviour of Ukrainians with respect to a hostile aggressor.  In fact, however, the only ‘proof’ to back the charges comes from a ‘confession’ almost certainly tortured out of Oleh Morochkovsky and shown on Russian propaganda media back in August 2022.

The Russian invading forces used rocket-propelled grenades and a whole arsenal of other weapons to attack and seize control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in early March 2022.  Since then, they have abducted and tortured a huge number of civilians, both those directly working at ZNPP, and residents of Enerhodar, the city built to build and support the plant.

Since the fake ‘referendum’ staged in September 2022, Russia has claimed that the occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia oblast have ‘joined’ the Russian Federation and has now installed its own illegal ‘Zaporizhzhia regional court’.  Russia is prohibited by international law from applying its legislation on occupied territory and is also violating even fundamental principles of criminal procedure recognized in Russian law by depriving civilian hostages of any semblance of a fair trial, and of contact with international observers.  There is nothing to suggest that the men had independent lawyers, nor to explain how long the ‘trial’ lasted, who the ‘judges’ were, etc.  As with so many such travesties, the information has come after the ‘sentences’ were passed from the press service of Russia’s prosecutor general’s office.

Russia claimed that Yevsieliev had, from March until June 2023 gathered information about the places of deployment of Russian national guard [Rosgvardia] military personnel, weapons and military equipment in [occupied] Zaporizhzhia oblast and had sent this information to an officer of Ukraine’s Security Service [SBU].

Morochkovsky was accused of the same, with this allegedly from March to July 2022 and supposedly passed to a member of Ukrainian Armed Forces acting on behalf of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence.

The charge against Ukrainian citizens taken prisoner by an invading force on Ukrainian territory was of ‘spying’ under Article 276 of Russia’s criminal code.

RIA-Melitopol has been unable to find any information about Yevsieliev, but reposts the information about Oleh Morochkovsky from one of the sites devoted to searching for Ukrainian hostages seized by the Russians.  According to that, Oleh Morochkovsky is 31 (b. 27 August 1992) and has been in Russian captivity since he was seized at a checkpoint near Enerodar on 11 August 2022.

Morochkovsky had thus been held in Russian captivity for a month when, on 31 August 2022, the Russian state-controlled RIA Novosti spoke of two Ukrainians, both allegedly working at ZNPP, having been detained and posted Morochkovsky’s supposed ‘confession’ to providing Ukraine, for example, with the coordinates of military vehicles on the territory of ZNPP.

One of the purposes of these propaganda videos was, undoubtedly, to force the abducted Ukrainians into blaming Ukraine for Russia’s aggression.  Morochkovsky, for example, says that Kyiv’s accusations against Russia of shelling ZNPP are “devoid of logic”.  The other man, supposedly called Oleksiy Danylov, is claimed to have asserted that the shelling of the territory of ZNPP and Enerhodar came from Ukrainian positions and to have thought that the coordinates were needed by Ukrainian military “to seize the plant”.

In essentially all cases where men (and sometimes women) seized by the Russians have later been able to smuggle out information (via freed prisoners of war or, less often, civilian hostages) or have themselves been released, they have confirmed that their ‘confessions’ were extracted through torture.

There are no grounds either for believing that Dmytro Savin (b. 1981), a Ukrainian from Terpinnya, in the Melitopol raion, received a proper ‘trial’ before being sentenced by the same kangaroo ‘court’ to 10 years at the beginning of March.  He too was accused of ‘spying’ under Article 276.  The only significant difference to the charges against Morochkovsky and Yevsieliev is that Savin is claimed to have collected information about the deployment of a Rosgvardia unit from August to December 2022.  It is known that he disappeared from Terpinnya in July 2023, with his family having no idea what had happened to him.

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