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Russia may release five Ukrainian prisoners: Who are they?

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Russian media report that five Ukrainian political prisoners could soon be extradited to Ukraine
12:08, 7 September 2019

Prisoners
112 Agency

Volodymyr Balukh, Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klykh, Pavlo Gryb and Oleksandr Kolchenko were taken to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow and can be extradited to Ukraine to serve their sentences.

This information appeared in the Russian media. Now, based on the sources of journalists, the question of extradition of five prisoners to Ukraine and the format of this procedure are being discussed.

Russian media also reported that before the end of August, Russia could extradite to Ukraine the prisoners of war captured in Kerch Strait in November 2018. The exchange process has allegedly been launched already, although a large number of details were not yet announced.

In total, it is about five prisoners and a group of Ukrainian sailors. We will remind you who they are.

 

Who is Volodymyr Balukh?

Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh
Krym.Realii

Volodymyr Balukh is Crimean. He is a farmer and Ukrainian public activist.

In December 2016, a search was held in the house of Volodymyr Balukh’s wife Natalya. During the search, 70 rounds of Kalashnikov assault rifle, 19 shells and 5 TNT checkers were allegedly found. But Balukh and his defenders say he was punished for having a pro-Ukrainian opinion, as he hoisted a flag of Ukraine in his yard.

Volodymyr Balukh was detained on December 8 in 2016. A criminal case was opened for illegal storage and carrying of firearms and ammunition.

By a court decision, he was detained until January 6, 2017.

Later, on December 13, 2016, Balukh was accused under the article for illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of a weapon, its main parts, ammunition. On December 27, 2016, the preventive measure was extended until February 5, 2017, and on February 3 - until March 4, 2017.

In August 2017, Razdolnensky District Court sentenced Volodymyr Balukh to three years and seven months in a penal colony.

Another case against Balukh concerned the statement by the head of the temporary detention facility in Razdolny, Valeriy Tkachenko that Balukh allegedly beat him. Balukh himself and his defense said that Tkachenko had attacked him.

Volodymyr Balukh was on a hunger strike several times. The latter lasted from June 27 to July 5, 2019.

 

Who is Mykola Karpyuk?

Ukrainian political prisoner Mykola Karpyuk
hromadske.ua

Mykola Karpyuk has participated in most of the major public events in the country since 1991. He was a participant in all more or less significant events that influenced the growth of Ukraine and its national consciousness.

Now Mykola Karpyuk is in prison in the Russian Federation for the sixth year already. He recently celebrated his 55th birthday behind the bars.

The Ukrainian was detained in March 2014 on his way to Russia. The purpose of the trip was negotiations with the entourage of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the cancelation of the Crimean referendum, which eventually became the basis for the annexation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation.

When crossing the border on March 17, he was detained by Russian border guards and taken to Bryansk, a week later he was transferred to the detention center of Yessentuki city.

For a long time, Ukrainian consuls could not get to meet the detainee. Karpyuk even tried to commit suicide, but the warders stopped this attempt.

The Ukrainian was accused of crimes against the Russian Armed Forces, in particular, for the alleged creation and commandment in a Viking detachment during the first Chechen war, the murder attempt and killing servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces.  

And although during the trial, Karpyuk’s lawyers drew attention to many inconsistencies, violations of defendant’s rights, and strange testimony of the only alleged witness to his “crimes,” the sentence was finally imposed.

In May 2016, Mykola Karpyuk was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. The appeal did not help; the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the verdict.

Since 2017, Karpyuk has been in Vladimir Central prison.

 

Who is Stanislav Klykh?

Ukrainian political prisoners Stanislav Klykh
Radio Liberty

Stanislav Klykh became a defendant in the same case as Mykola Karpyuk. Russia accused Karpyuk of commanding the Viking detachment in the Chechen war, and Klykh was a fighter of the same unit of Ukrainian nationalists.

Russian investigators assured the court that a detachment of Karpyuk and Klykh in December 1994 - January 1995 allegedly fought with the Russian military in Grozny on the territory of the presidential palace, as well as on Minutka Square and the railway station. During the fighting, according to the case allegations, Karpyuk and Klykh “killed at least 30 military personnel and caused at least 13 military personnel injuries of different severity.” Another episode is the alleged defendants’ participation in the second Chechen war.

Karpyuk nor Klykh denied guilty at the trial, saying that the testimony in the investigation was given under torture. The whole charge was actually based on the testimony of the repeated offender Alexandr Malofeev, sentenced to more than 20 years for double murder during the robbery and who is suffering from a number of deadly diseases. During the trial, the defense demonstrated that the course of events of the first Chechen war set out in the case, contradicts the facts.

However, Klykh was still sentenced to 20 years and 1 month of imprisonment with serving the first 9 years in prison, and the rest of the term - in a maximum security penal colony.

Klykh was teaching at Kyiv Transport and Economic College. On August 8, 2014, Ukrainian was abducted in Orel city, where he came to visit a friend, and was taken to the North Caucasus. Then followed the trials, years of imprisonment. In a Russian prison, Stanislav Klykh got ill - there were signs of gangrene, cancer. He began to have mental disorders, lawyers passed sad news to his mother Tamara - Stas looked very bad.

Mykola Karpyuk was accused of crimes against the Russian Armed Forces, in particular, for the alleged creation and commandment in a Viking detachment during the first Chechen war, the murder attempt and killing servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces.

 

Who is Pavlo Gryb?

Pavlo Gryb, the Ukrainian political prisoner
Hromadske

Russian special agency detained a 19 year old Pavlo Gryb, the son of the former Ukrainian border guard Ihor Gryb, on August 25, 2017, when he went to Gomel (Belarus) to meet his friend. Later, he was convoyed to Russia. The Russian law enforcers suspect Pavlo Gryb of preparing a terrorist attack at a school in Sochi (a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Black Sea coast, - 112 International).

Pavlo Gryb was not allowed to see his mother and the Ukrainian consul. Russia promises to give permission to the meeting with the consul, but only after the verdict. Yet, the consular convention signed between Ukraine and Russia does not provide for such refusal.

On March 21, Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Gryb delivered his last plea in North Caucasus military court in Rostov-on Don, Russia. 

'For the first time, I get this chance to say my word. My final plea, in which I'd like to finally tell how it actually happened', the young man said.

Gryb denied all charges from the Russian FSB, calling them 'bandits and murderers'. He also claimed that no one had reasons to believe that neutral Belarus would actually 'appear to be dangerous'.   

Pavlo wished all fellow political prisoners to endure the captivity with dignity, 'standing for truth and conscience'. He concluded his speech with the words 'Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Ukrainian nation!'

 

Who is Oleksandr Kolchenko?

Open source

Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko were detained by Russian special services in Crimea in May 2014 on charges of organizing terrorist attacks on the peninsula. In August 2015, the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Oleg Sentsov to 20 years of imprisonment in strict regime colony on charges of terrorist activities in Crimea. Both did not recognize their guilt.

Public activist. Oleksandr Kolchenko was arrested on May 16, 2014 by the FSB of the Russian Federation on charges of terrorism. In August 2015, he was sentenced in Russia to 10 years in prison in a maximum-security colony.

He was detained along with three more people. Russia claimed that Kolchenko was a member of the ‘Right Sector,’ and the purpose of the detained group was allegedly sabotage and terrorist acts in Simferopol, Sevastopol and Yalta.

In particular, the case was based on explosions of self-made explosives near the Eternal Flame Memorial and the monument to Lenin in Simferopol at night on May 8-9, 2014, and arsons of the offices of “Russian Community of Crimea” NGO and the representative office of the United Russia party in Simferopol on April 14 and 18, 2014.

Kolchenko himself said the arson of the United Russia office door was a symbolic gesture of protest, rather than an attempt to “intimidate the Crimean population,” and emphasized that there was no one in the building at midnight.

In May 2018, he went on a hunger strike, but due to health condition, he stopped it on June 7 of the same year.

 

What is the case on Ukrainian sailors?

Ukrainian sailors in court. Archive
Reuters

On November 25, 2018, Russian border guards seized the Ukrainian Yana Kapu raid tug and small armored artillery boats Berdyansk and Nikopol of the Naval Forces of Ukraine in the Kerch Strait area, using weapons.

As a result of the incident, 24 Ukrainian sailors were detained and arrested. They were transported from Crimea to the Moscow Lefortovo detention facility. In addition, three Ukrainian sailors wounded during the shelling by the Russians were transferred to the Prison Hospital.

UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea issued a decision that ordered the Russian Federation to release three Ukrainian ships and 24 Ukrainian sailors captured in the Kerch Strait area in November 2018, and allow them to return to Ukraine.

 “The court considers it necessary to demand that Russia immediately release three detained Ukrainian ships - Nikopol, Berdyansk and Yana Kapu, 24 detained sailors, and allow them to return to Ukraine,” said Tribunal President Park Jin Heong.

The decision was supported by 19 judges. One voted against - Russian judge Kolodkin.

Russia did not send its official representative to the hearing, and also refused to provide materials, but according to the current international law, it is still obliged to comply with the decisions taken by the court.

 

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