Igor Mazur, one of the leaders of UNA-UNSO far-right organization, returned to Ukraine after being detained in Poland. We decided to go to Lublin and find out other similar cases when the Ukrainian military and, in general, Ukrainian citizens are taken into custody at the request of the Russian Federation. We managed to talk with the Consul General in Lublin, Vasyl Pavlyuk, he knows the situation from the inside like no one else.
How common is the detention of Ukrainians through Interpol?
First of all, it should be noted that Russia is conducting a hybrid war against Ukraine and this is one of the options for hybrid war. Russia uses all possible and impossible methods to put pressure on Ukraine, its patriots, society, and the whole world to show that Ukrainians are bandits, Banderites, fascists, and they are holy angels, they stand for peace, but the peace is at the scene of a murder, unfortunately
And they launched a new attack on Ukraine - through Interpol. It is difficult to assert something, but there are suspicions that some organizations cooperate with them on Interpol. And they put extradition requests on Ukrainians who, to some extent or at some time were in Russia - worked or went to families, or to other places, or for other purposes of the trip. And the next day, if they are military, or if they appeared in patriotic organizations, or helped at the front, they pull out these people, make a request on them, and fabricate cases. And in this way they are dragged into Russia, they are not prosecuted for a crime, but they are made of the political (prisoners), and in this way, we will have more and more prisoners of the Kremlin each time.
In this way, they began to work to intimidate to some extent, because it is scary to go to prison in Russia, where you are in prison for 25-30 years. And we see that the world raises the issue, but Russia does not care. And that person will sit there. The situation is very complicated. And anyone can be there.
Do you know other facts of detention, imprisonment, extradition, except for Mazur?
There are people in my consular district who are waiting for extradition to Russia, they have already sent some, and we only recaptured one guy from the Ternopil region. Thank God he is in Ukraine. He spent a year and eight months in prison while we were fighting for him. And someone was handed over, someone is awaiting extradition. We are doing everything possible and impossible, and our hands are tied, because there is international law between world society before Interpol, in the end, there are certain norms and they must also be respected.
How many people in your consular district are in prison?
More than ten are awaiting extradition. But this is only within our sight. I don’t know the data about the whole Poland.
So, the courts have already passed, and the court recognized ...
The process is on, the process of extradition is on. You understand, when a state demands someone to return to their country through Interpol, they do not conduct an investigation, they just look at the documents. That country should give them materials, whether everything is correctly formulated regarding extradition, and that’s all. They do not understand the essence of the matter. And in fact, the country that made the request will be sorted out.
Are these all the people, who took part in the hostilities?
No, not all, there are criminal elements, who also require extradition. Here we, as representatives of the Ukrainian state, as diplomats, are obliged to defend even the worst criminal, if he is a citizen of Ukraine. We do not delve into the consequence of what this person did, we are obligated to protect them. But we understand and see where there is a pure crime and where it can be extradited.
How many extradition cases have already taken place?
It is necessary to raise the materials. Lots of. More than 800 people are currently in prison.
Yes. There is extradition to European countries - Hungary, Germany, France, Belgium and Russia.
What needs to be done to reduce such cases?
We must understand that Russia is a very powerful enemy, cunning, treacherous and vile, they will do anything and we must live with that. We need to work at the highest level to create a certain group that would work in that direction. This includes the prosecutor’s office, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other structures, no doubt, and Interpol, where they would work in that direction with European states, with Interpol and with other law enforcement agencies of those states, regarding the political component. I'm not talking about crime right now.
Poland has ambiguous attitude towards such nationalistic organizations as the UPA, UNA-UNSO, perhaps it played a role in the detentions?
No, absolutely. Undoubtedly, in Poland, there is a certain attitude towards militaristic organizations like the UPA, which work in that direction in Ukraine. Undoubtedly, there is a certain negative attitude, to say the least. But in this situation, these are completely different things, because there is law, there is international law and it is being implemented.