“Beaten for Hours, Kicked Between the Legs”: SBU Torture That Ukraine Doesn’t Speak About

Translated by Ollie Richardson



In the run-up to the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) in Minsk on July 5th, 2017, the question of exchanging prisoners was given special relevance. As the media reports, significant progress was outlined in the verification of exchange list, however it wasn’t without difficulties.

Thus, the Ukrainian side, through its representative in the TCG, Leonid Kuchma, stated that disagreements among the parties of the agreement nevertheless are present.

“There are disagreements according to the list, but the process of verification is complete, all have agreed with it. There are differences in the lists, about 5–6 people. Even small discrepancies are a problem.

We, on the Ukrainian side, have no problems, they (representatives of Donbass) have 15-16 people more on their list than we are holding here. We agreed that at the next meeting, which will be on July 5th, before July 5th we must solve all these problems and begin the exchange process,” he stated.

It is worth remembering that at the beginning of July the representative of the DPR in the humanitarian subgroup to the Trilateral Contact Group on a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbass Daria Morozova noted that the Ukrainian side prevents the DPR from finishing the verification of hostages.

“The verification that is carried out in penal institutions hasn’t been completed …Very often the Ukrainian side’s refusal to continue the verification stems from the argument that these people are at large. But actually the specified persons are released under a personal obligation or written undertaking not to leave, and there are no problems with access to them,” she said.

There is a need to hope that the process of exchange will take place successfully, and all prisoners will easily leave the territory of Ukraine — because for the third year of war already, nobody has illusions about what threatens a person who fell into the hands of the SBU.

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“Before being taken prisoner I worked as a driver, I transported humanitarian aid from Russia,” said Sergey N., who, together with his family, in the autumn of 2014 was detained by unknown persons in black uniform. “The grounds for detention weren’t explained to me, nobody answered my questions.

We stood for more than an hour in handcuffs until the inspectors of the traffic police arrived, who brought us to the SBU leadership … Upon arrival we were taken into the building and put in some kind of sports room, handcuffed, and told to wait for morning”.

Next day we were taken in for interrogation. When Sergey answered that he knows nothing, people in civil clothes began to beat him.

“I was beaten for several hours, kicked in the genital area between my legs, I was twisted and planted on a stool, whilst being beaten at the same time.

After the beating I was brought back to the sports room in handcuffs, where I was knocked down from my feet, I fell to the floor, and laid all night long handcuffed behind my back,” he said.

As a result of the beating two of the victim’s ribs were broken, however he didn’t receive any medical care. The next morning he, with other detainees, was bound with plastic ties, a bag was placed on his head, and he was put in the car. As it turned out, they were taken to the SBU in Kharkov.

An hour later Sergey was summoned for interrogation, which was followed by beating again. “I was beaten for about 40 minutes, then led out back to the cell. After these beatings I wasn’t touched for a day or two,” he said.

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Despite the fact that no charges were brought to the victim, thus nobody was going to release him, Sergey was released as a result of an exchange of prisoners only in the winter of 2014.

At the same time the conditions of keeping in prison were far from European.

“We were fed three times a day, but there was absolutely not enough food, and it was bad quality. We were brought together to the shower only a few time during my stay there,” he says.

During his time spent in prison, Sergey lost ten kilograms of weight, and the only medical care that he received was two tablets of dipyrone.

At the same time the victim had no opportunity to appeal in court or to the prosecutor against the illegal actions of persons, and also had no opportunity to receive help from a lawyer.

Unfortunately, the case described above isn’t isolated. Torture and threats were widely adopted on the territory of Ukraine, and practically gained the character of a mass phenomenon. Numerous nationalist units, which serve with pleasure representatives of the Ukrainian special service when they needed to beat out the next “confession”, are particularly distinguished in this respect.

In conclusion, it is worth remembering that from a legal point of view such actions fall under Part 2 (subparagraphs I, II) and 2 е (subparagraph XI) of Article 8 of the Rome Statute, which considers such actions against persons protected according to the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention as gross violations of the Geneva Conventions of August 12th, 1949, and refers them to the category of war crimes.

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