Since the beginning of the occupation, the "LPR" has already passed death sentences, but the official "legalization" is only now being discussed.
It would seem that putting the words "self-proclaimed republics" and "rule of law" in one row would be strange (recall the recent case of the executioner of the Izolyatsia prison in Donetsk, evidence of the long process of freeing random people from the basements of the occupied cities). Still, the "rules" of illegal armed groups threaten people in these territories. For years, human rights activists have continued to collect evidence of executions in Donbas.
We are investigating why a death sentence can be passed in the self-proclaimed republics, where such "rules" apply, and we will consider high-profile cases of such "sentences" being passed in the occupied territories.
The death penalty in the "DPR"
A little background on justifying the introduction of executions by the militants: both self-proclaimed "republics" took steps to create a three-tier "judicial" system: the "DPR Supreme Court" began functioning on January 9, 2015, and in the "LPR" - on October 25, 2018. Prior to the creation of these systems, military formations conducted military tribunals and people's courts without a legal basis or on the basis of USSR martial law legislation (in force during the Second World War). These "lawsuits" led to executions.
In its investigation of Sloviansk Executioners, Radio Liberty names the people who carried out extrajudicial executions at the beginning of the war in the east. In addition to Igor Girkin, at least nine people participated in these "military-field tribunals".
Now in the self-proclaimed "DPR" there is something like its own "criminal legislation" - the death penalty is envisaged as a capital punishment.
The situation was highlighted at the UN: in August 2020, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced in its report the introduction of the death penalty and stated that it violated international humanitarian law. The report noted at least two such cases. The UN is concerned about the following factors:
- independent monitors are not allowed into prisons in the occupied territories;
- residents of the occupied territories do not have the right to choose lawyers;
- “Criminal Procedure Code” in its current form creates an imbalance in favor of “accusation” and in violation of the right to a fair trial;
- "court sessions" are held behind closed doors.
"International law establishes strict conditions for the application of the death penalty, including strict adherence to international standards of fair trial. It is obvious that the structures created by the 'Donetsk people's republic' do not meet these standards. Therefore, they cannot pass death sentences," in the report.
For what can they be executed in occupied Donbas? For example, an attempt on the life of "government officials" and employees of "law enforcement agencies". Starting in 2021, the death penalty or imprisonment for up to 15 years shines on the "soldier" who voluntarily left the battlefield during a battle or position during hostilities.
The execution cannot be applied to women, children, and men over the age of 65.
How death penalty appeared in the "LPR"?
The death penalty is introduced due to the fact that now the so-called "LPR" and "DPR" are synchronizing their "legislation". The head of the "Eastern Human Rights Group" Vera Yastrebova explained that in the uncontrolled part of the Luhansk region, "legislation" is being rewritten to match the "laws" of the occupied Donetsk region.
Yastrebova believes that the synchronization of "legislation" is an intermediate process for the unification of the "LPR" and "DPR".
Meetings of the "Prosecutor General's Offices" have already been held, during which they agreed to introduce the death penalty in the "LPR", since it already exists in the "DPR". This is confirmed by sources from among lawyers in occupied Donbas.
The news about synchronization is heard more and more often: on Sunday, the leader of the "DPR" group Denis Pushilin suggested that in the future there might be a union with the so-called "LPR". But there is one thing: now full unification cannot take place because of the Minsk agreements. He added that in the fall "DPR" and "LPR" united economic spaces.
Death sentences in occupied Donbas
In 2014, the media reported that in Alchevsk, on the territory controlled by the "LPR", a "people's court" consisting of 300 local residents, by a show of hands, pronounced the death sentence on a man who was accused of rape. The sentence was carried out by firing squad.
In 2017, the “DPR” sentenced a man to death and confiscation of property for the rape and murder of a child in Shakhtersk.
“Citizen P. committed the rape of minor and other violent acts of a sexual nature against the victim. Trying to avoid responsibility for what he had done, the offender killed the child. For the totality of the crimes, the defendant was sentenced to an exceptional measure - the death penalty with confiscation of all property that is the personal property of the convicted person. The verdict has come into legal force," said the message of the "court".
On July 18, 2018, the death sentence was passed to a member of an organized gang of "Cossacks" who in 2014-2015. were engaged in robberies. It is about Anatoly Yakubenko, a fighter of illegal armed formations of the Cossack union "Don Cossack Oblast". He was sentenced to "capital punishment" for joining a gang and killing two girls.
On the evening of March 8, 2015, the "Cossacks" together with Yakubenko celebrated the holiday in one of the cafes in the village of Larino near Donetsk. They approached 23-year-old Olena Leshchenko and Lina Kuzina and offered them to have sex. The girls refused. According to the materials of the "case", Yakubenko fired several times at the girls with a Stechkin pistol, while firing control shots in the head. Then he buried the bodies in the field. These girls had nothing to do with military service or any resistance movement.
At the same time, the publication "Spectrum" wrote that the "DPR" did not always carry out death sentences, since it did not have a mechanism for their implementation and "executioners". After all, the farther from 2014, the fewer people who want to do this.
In April, a scandal broke out with the Trilateral Contact Group: representatives of the occupation authorities announced the opening of a case against a member of the Ukrainian delegation, Denys Kazansky. He is charged under an article that provides for the death penalty with confiscation of property. Representatives of Ukraine refused to participate in the meetings.
The death penalty is prohibited in Ukraine (the moratorium first began to operate in 1995 - a condition for joining the Council of Europe). In this regard, Ukrainian courts pass sentences in absentia to "judges" in the occupied territories. Head of the "DPR Supreme Court" Eduard Yakubovsky was sentenced in absentia to 12 years (he also passed death sentences). Another verdict in absentia was passed to his colleague from the "DPR Supreme Court" - 10 years with confiscation of property.