Question 1: How did it happen?
Pavlo Gryb, 20-year old Ukrainian blogger and son of an ex-Ukrainian Border Service officer was abducted by the Russian Security Forces (FSB) in Belarus, on 24 August 2017. Then it was reported (in particular, in the Russian media) that Gryb was considered a supporter of Ukrainian far-right UNA-UNSO organization, banned in Russia. He was transported to Russia and charged with incitement to blowing up a Russian school based on his chatting with a female friend on Skype. Gryb claims he was having an online romance with the girl but says it turned out to be an officer from the Russian intelligence services who was messaging him on her behalf shortly before his trip. Russian investigators claimed that the boy was messaging the student and was trying to get her to plant an explosive device in her school. Gryb denies the charges.
Question 2: What do we know about the charges?
The teens have been online friends since January 2017. After six months of close communication, the young people decided to live together, and Russian girl Tatiana was going to get a passport for moving to Ukraine.
Then the girl told that she has been always considering herself a Ukrainian, and she discussed the Revolution of Dignity, the armed conflict in Donbas and the ideology of Ukrainian nationalism with Pavlo. At the same time, after the girl moved to Ukraine, young people allegedly intended to participate in Donbas war on the side of Ukraine.
“In March 2017, a young man offered her to move to Ukraine. But before that, Tanya had to finish school and pass the exams. For the rest of the summer, the teenagers were going to go to the Ukrainian camp for training self-defense fighters, which Pavlo has found. And after they planned to go to Donbas. ‘We wanted this together. And I relied on him on this matter. The idea was to start fighting for our views and then build a life somehow, create a family’... He continued sending Tanya links to some texts about the formation of the Ukrainian nation, about the events of the mid-twentieth century, about the internal policy of the Soviet Union and Germany of that period. The teenagers were seriously passionate about the figures of Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych (Nazi collaborators – ed.)," Russian outlet wrote.
Then the FSB began to follow their correspondence. Tatiana was brought in for questioning, and they decided to act out her meeting with Pavlo in Belarus. The meeting turned out to be short. The teenagers talked about the plans and said goodbye (although initially, they planned to spend several days in the country, the girl’s mother opposed it). And then Pavlo was kidnapped. As it turned out, he was taken to Russia and taken to the Smolensk region.
Question 3: How was the trial going?
It was difficult, like almost any other trials connected with Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia.
Pavlo was repeatedly arrested. And the Russian side ignored the statements of the father and the Ukrainian ombudsman about serious health problems of the boy.
In particular, at the end of January, Pavlo’s father reported that his son probably had Alzheimer's symptoms, and Ukrainian ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova later stated that Pavlo needed immediate heart surgery.
Question 4: Ukraine’s and the world reaction
"The European Union expects Mr. Gryb to be immediately released and granted access to the special medical treatment he needs. For so long as he remains in detention, Ukrainian doctors must be allowed to see him as required by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights," the EU spokesperson stated.
The EU also emphasizes that Ukrainian doctors should be allowed to see the boy, as required by the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
"The farce in the Gryb case continues. Today, he has been illegally extended arrest in the Russian Federation until April 2019. We express our protest to the Russian Federation and demand his release," Ukraine’s MFA said in one of its statements.
Question 5: What's next?
The fate of the boy remains unknown. He can appeal the verdict within ten days. Pavlo went on a hunger strike.
Ukraine has already offered to exchange him for seriously ill Russian mercenary Alexei Sedikov, but Russia refused.
His has already spoken about the fate of his son.
“I can state that this is a death sentence. Pavlo needs an urgent medical operation that would continue his life. This is a death sentence.”