Ukrainians illegally detained in Russia: The “Crimean” Case

No man is an island, even if his voice was drowning in dirty mud of lies and captured in the nightmares of tortures. Naturally, when one is striving for a better life for his friends and the territorial integrity of his own nation, there are always those who will stand up and fight for him. No doubt, it is definitely so for the so-called “Crimean case”.

 This includes, in particular, Oleg Sentsov (39) and Alexander Kolchenko (25). They were the first two of more than 10 other hostages of the Kremlin powers to have become victims in Russia’s war against Ukraine, most of whose names are unfortunately unknown to activists yet.

 What is the most interesting, the detainees’ lives, whom Russia considers to be a terroristic network, were even not related to each other before imprisonment. At least, except for supporting the security and territorial integrity of their homeland,  especially in protest of illegal seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea by Russian troops. Indeed, such actions simply couldn’t have been ignored and forgiven by the Russian regime, which has long got used to producing fake evidence.

 Actually, both Sentsov and Kolchenko were those, who opposed the illusions and supported national unity. Oleg Sentsov himself is a Ukrainian filmmaker, best known for his 2011 film “Gamer”, that successfully debuted at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2012 and a number of other succeeding festivals. But his further work at the feature “Rhino” had to be postponed, because of every effort provided to maintain the goals of the Revolution of Dignity. On the inception of the Euromaidan protest movement in November 2013 Sentsov joined the activists of “AutoMaidan” and during the following 2014 Crimean crisis he was helping in delivering food and supplies to Ukrainian servicemen blockaded at their Crimean bases. He was arrested in his native city of Simferopol (Crimea) in May 2014 at his own home.

 The same fate befell student and public activist Alexander Kolchenko, arrested in May 2014 in Simferopol as well. Refusal to accept the citizenship and lies of Russia cost him a detention in Moscow under accusations of terrorism and illegal keeping of explosives. In fact, among other things, he is blamed for setting fire to the office of the United Russia party branch in Simferopol in mid-April 2014.

 On August 25, 2015 two Ukrainian citizens, Oleg Sentsov and Alexander Kolchenko, within a showcase trial were given a prison sentence of 20 and 10 years, respectively.

 After holding Sentsov and Kolchenko without charges for three weeks, Russia’s Federal Security Service (better known as FSB) in its statement also even forged them into a “part of a terrorist community, to carry out explosions with home-made devices”. The FSB accused them of seeking to carry out terrorist attacks on bridges, power lines, and public monuments in the Crimean cities of Simferopol, Yalta, and Sevastopol.

 In other words, following the Kremlin’s directives, the FSB has simply decided to collate these people standing up against the annexation of Crimea and call them the “terrorist and sabotage group of Sentsov.”

So after the arrest they obviously got almost the same accusations:  p. “A” s. 1, Art. 205.4 (“creating a terrorist group”), p. “A” s. 2, Art. 205 (“terrorist act committed by an organized group of persons by prior agreement), s. 1, Art. 30 (preparation and attempt to commit a crime”), p. 3. 222 of the Criminal Code of Russia (“illegal acquisition and possession of ammunition by an organized group of persons by prior agreement”).

 Incredibly the Russian prosecutors have managed to make the whole case even more absurd by further claiming Sentsov and Kolchenko were members of Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary group, Right Sector, which was openly denied even by Right Sector itself. And still it is noteworthy that in pledging for reason and humanity, nonetheless, “the Crimean case” truly demonstrates a fight with a machine far from logic and common sense.

Astonishingly, the very name of the “Sentsov group” today has already transformed into another sign of Ukrainian liberation struggle in the on-going war with Russia; and also of a community of those who suffer for freedom and those who protect them in overcoming the fabricated facts. However, the very fabric, the whole story has been made of, someday soon will choke its weavers, as it has well covered them with shame and disregard of the whole civilized international community.

What is important to keep in mind is that the voices of Ukrainians illegally detained in Russia will sound as long as we are aware of the fact that the destiny of a nation depends on the freedom and rights guaranteed to its citizens. And what can be outspoken today may change the upcoming tomorrow.PicMonkey Collage

Significantly, the very story of Gennadyi Afanasyev, another Ukrainian activist sentenced to 7 years of prison on December  17, 2014, proves the power of such a word in action. The most stunning about the case is that initially it was Afanasyev’s evidence to have become a basis of the charges against Sentsov, Kolchenko and himself as well; even despite a doubt, numerously expressed by his lawyer, Ilya Novikov, as for its unforced nature.

Finally, it was on July 31, 2015, when Gennadyi rejected his previous evidence, speaking as a prosecution witness  at the trial of the former two of his fellow citizens. The young Ukrainian has uncovered the truth and said it was given under pressure. However hard, but it is possible to imagine being beaten with boxing gloves, put on a gas mask closing the air inside or injecting gas into the mask, or even tortured with electric shocks and threatened to be raped with a soldering iron, either deprived of sleep for ten days – all of which is directed at simply vanishing one’s human conscience and forcing to sign the necessary investigation testimony. According to Ilya Novikov, that very kind of nightmare was created for Gennadyi.

Nevertheless, it can be seen that true human dignity can never be abolished. As it is impossible to live in the shadows of an illusion, no matter how badly casted by those in fear of reality. That is why after Afanasyev’s words, proving the innocence of Ukrainian hostages, it seemed like the whole free and democratic world had joined Sentsov and Kolchenko in their energetic exclaiming of “Glory to Ukraine!”

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