13 prisoners released from SBU secret prison in Kharkov


13 political prisoners have been released from an SBU secret prison in Kharkov. The news agency “Kharkov” reveals some details and peculiarities of their release.

Yesterday, August 28, the international human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in a joint communique announced the release of 13 illegally detained persons, including one woman, from a secret SBU prison in Kharkov. The Ukrainian authorities have not officially commented on the facts of the detention or release of the prisoners. At the same time, SBU officers secretly transferred two groups of prisoners to the Donetsk region in an armoured minibus, returned the documents to them and gave from 50 to 200 hryvnias “for returning home”. They warned the prisoners that the disclosure of the fact of their detention in a secret prison would entail grave consequences.

News agency “Kharkov” reveals some details and peculiarities of the release of the political prisoners. The editors apologize to the readers for the fact that the main part of the findings of both employees and voluntary assistants of “Kharkov” NA working in this area will remain “behind the scenes” until the regime ruling on the ruins of Ukraine is overthrown and it is safe for people who help free those who are called “separatists” by Kiev.

First of all, it is necessary to clarify that the cooperation with international human rights organizations has some peculiarities. The very nature of their work and the location of headquarters requires a “balanced approach”. As a result, only a year after the facts of the abduction by SBU officers in Kharkov were made public, the organizations started to address the issue of secret prisons and other violations of the law by the ruling regime in Kiev. At the same time, the organizations link all of its public allegations of human rights violations by the Ukrainian authorities with similar claims against the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics.

Since May 2014 and until now, a number of journalists and volunteer assistants regularly inform the International Red Cross and other human rights organizations about the unlawful practices by the SBU (in particular, in Kharkov). The SBU employees work together with Nazi armd groups (for example, the Right Sector), kidnap and secretly detain people in the building of the SBU Office, the Kharkov Hotel and concentration camps. One of those abducted was the head of the Union of Citizens of Ukraine Aleksei Lukianov. For about three weeks he was kept in a concentration camp near Slavyansk under the guard of neo-Nazis.

Information about the abducted people can be obtained thanks to the specifics of what is happening in Ukraine, where there is a civil war. People who are familiar with or associated with those involved in the release of political prisoners continue to work in the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Security Service of Ukraine. There are officers who voluntarily take risks and report on unlawfully detained persons or on the use of unlawful methods of interrogation against detainees who have been officially arrested.

It happens that information about prisoners can be obtained under the threat of the disclosure of certain information about special services officers which they are hiding from their supervisors. So, for example, there was a case when one of the employees of the SBU of Kharkov regularly reported on people abducted by the security services, fearing the disclosure of incriminating evidence against him. While being a citizen of Ukraine, he owns a property in Gurzuf, the Crimea.

Most of the information that can be collected, after the fact-check from other sources, is then given to the relevant bodies of Russia, Donetsk and Lugansk Republics, and to the ombudsmen. Regular meetings and the exchange of information allow for collecting reliable and verifiable material, which is subsequently provided through the official channels to the human rights organisations. Of course, without reference to sources in the territory controlled by Poroshenko’s regime.

Only a small part of the information, and even with a large delay in time, is made public. Most often this happens after certain persons are released and they leave the territory controlled by Kiev. Less commonly, when human rights organisations reveal details about secret prisons and the prisoners held there. Sometimes, as in the case of the “Address of the SBU officer …” there is a need to publicize documented facts of violation by Kiev of international law. The purpose of such publications is not only to inform about what is happening but also to coerce the states supporting the Poroshenko regime to exert pressure on Kiev and stop the unlawful practices.

Abduction and unlawful detention of people are serious crimes and fall under the list of crimes against humanity and/or war crimes. Moreover, regardless of whether this happens with the sanction of state bodies, with their support or acquiescence. It is also a serious crime to refuse to investigate and to conceal data on the fate and whereabouts of the abducted, as a result of which they are deprived of the legal protection of their rights.

In this case, some of the released persons are safe, and the other ones (three people) agreed to give evidence to the investigating authorities of Ukraine on the facts of violation of the law by employees of the SBU Office in the Kharkov region.

“We are concerned about the fate of these three people, especially since they were threatened not to make their secret detention public,” says Tanya Lokshina, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central Asia. “The chief military prosecutor of Ukraine must ensure their safety and protect them from harassment and intimidation by other Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.”

“Kharkov” also expresses the hope that publicized facts will help ensure the protection of people who took risks to prevent such crimes in the future. To the extent possible, we will continue to inform our readers about what is happening and make a feasible contribution to the release of political prisoners and abducted people…

Source: Kharkov news agency