The Open Letter of the Kharkov Political Prisoner Igor Dzhadan

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Natalia Lapina

I received one more piece of news from the prison of Kharkov from Igor Dzhadan – the man who helped the medical service of the perimeter of the monument to Lenin.

Then there was an arrest, bail, and a struggle to the best of his ability. We saw him shortly before his arrest. We had a discussion. Confusion, understanding that the circle continues to tighten and that detention is only a matter of time, this was felt in every word. But Igor did not leave. He remained in the city. I don’t think that he expected such lawlessness from “law enforcement bodies”.

I suggest that you familiarize yourself with his appeal.

“To the authorized representative of the Supreme Council of Ukraine on human rights V.V. Lutkovskaya,

the office of the Secretary of the authorized representative of the Supreme Council of Ukraine on human rights.

01008, Kiev city, Institutskaya street, No.21/8, [email protected],

From Dzhadan Igor Ivanovich,

1964 date of birth, a citizen of Ukraine, native of Kharkov, residing at: Kharkov, Chernyshevskogo street, No. 88, Apt. 15,

Currently detained in pre-trial detention center No. 27, Kharkov, Poltavsky Shlyakh Street, No. 99


I, Igor Ivanovich Dzhadan, born in 1964, citizen of Ukraine, living in Kharkov, was arrested on 29th April, 2015, in my hometown, at the exit of the hospital where I worked as a doctor. People who attacked me without any explanation or presenting any documents were dressed in civilian clothes. To my reasonable question: ‘By the way, you’re not from the SBU?’, the attackers categorically replied: ‘No’, adding that they are ‘members of Right Sector’.

‘You can call us fascists,’ one of them said to me. Much later it became clear that they were regular employees of the Security Service of Ukraine.

With a bag on my head and twisted hands I was thrown into the back seat of a civilian car and taken to an unknown destination. It is in such an ‘unsuccessful’ way that my communication with the Ukrainian law enforcement bodies started.

In the basement, where I was finally brought the alleged ‘members of Right Sector’ at first longly beat me with a baseball bat, saying ‘it’s curtains for you’. Then, having understood that I’m not predisposed to communicating with ‘fascists’, they turned me on my back, covered my face with a wet towel, and began to pour water on me, not allowing me to breathe. All this time all of the employees of the SBU who were beating me were in masks, except one. They continued to put on an act, some pretending to be ‘Right Sector’ and others as ‘fascists’. Of course, I had no desire to open up to ‘Right Sector’ and ‘fascists’, and I felt huge relief when I realized that I was losing consciousness and no longer feel pain…

However, even after this the ‘fascists’ did not calm down: having brought me in a semiconscious state to the hospital, they said to the sanitary inspection point that they found me on the street, beaten. I was immediately placed in the intensive care ward and was put on artificial respiration. When, after some time passed and I was disconnected from the apparatus and came to my senses, I found to my surprise that I am in the room under a false name. What was this ‘conspiracy’ of the SBU and who the creative employees of this organisation hid me from is anyone’s guess.

I was held in the hospital under a false name for three weeks, without the chance to contact any relatives or a lawyer.

All this time the SBU department in the Kharkov region stated to my relatives, who were looking for me, that my whereabouts is ‘unknown’. It is worth adding that my kidnapping, and the so-called ‘interrogation’ and further forced detention for three weeks were not in any way officially documented, and later on the SBU distance itself from the actions of their employees, stating that on 21st May. 2015, i.e. 3 weeks later, I ‘myself’ (on the stretcher in the ambulance) arrived for questioning by the SBU, where I was detained.

The district court judge, who chose for me a measure of restraint in the form of detention. also showed suspicious indifference to these ‘inconsistencies’: she said that if I have a complaint about the behaviour of ‘Right Sector’ and ‘fascists’, I have the right at any time to write a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office. It remained for me, who was lying in front of the judge on a stretcher, to simply agree…

How to explain the behaviour of the employees of the Ukrainian special services in my case, which at first glance looked ‘irrational’? After all, it would seem that nothing prevented them from working in the framework of at least formal legality. What is this, ‘old habits’ or a new ‘revolutionary necessity’? It looks like both, because at the time of my illegal arrest in the hospital room the actions that were carried aimed at the manipulation and falsification of facts: with the help of my keys, which were seized during my kidnapping, the door of my apartment was opened, C-4 was planted in the room, and on the wall the flag of Novorossiya was hung up. After this comical staged scene in my apartment, a ‘search’ was made and the discovery there of a ‘cache of weapons’ and ‘propaganda materials’ was reported — a universal recipe used by the political secret service of Ukraine for the arrest of dissidents.

When such a staged scene was considered by the authorities to be not convincing enough, they sent their employees to the hospital where I was kept, chained to the bed by two(!) handcuffs. In the night of 15th May two brutes in masks came into my room and, taking advantage of my helplessness, used my fingerprints to coat the ammunition and plastic explosives brought with them. Then the leader of the brutes, who was the only one without a mask, flashing a knife in front of my face and with a silly smile threatened me and my lawyer.

Of course, there was a special reason for such actions of ‘fascists’ (quote and unquote) – my negative attitude towards the ‘revolutionary’ coup has been long known. Already since the ‘orange revolution’ I in my articles and notes on the Internet repeatedly spoke out strongly against such ‘revolutions’, warning about the dire consequences that await the country. Among other things in 2008 I published an article that proves the perversity of the path on which Ukraine marches along: from one revolution to another (the article ‘Operation Clockwork Orange’). It was affirmed in the article that the consequence of this development will be, among other things, the loss of Crimea in the next few years, and possibly other territories. When less than 6 years later this prediction was confirmed, the hatred of the ideology of Maidan spilled onto me. After all, in front of the court of history they will no longer be able to justify the ‘ignorance of the consequences’; warnings were repeatedly sounded about the consequences.

What fate did these people prepare for those who dare to speak the truth in front of their face?

At first, on the basis that I, being a volunteer doctor of the Kharkov anti-Maidan, providing medical support to the victims of the civil clashes in Kharkov, was accused of ‘participating in mass riots with the use of violence’. This happened in April, 2014.

Currently this case is still being considered by the court of first instance. The case has lasted for a period of 3 years – unheard of for such cases, and there is no end in sight. The fact that for such a long time neither one of the 66 ‘accomplices’ in this case were acquitted for a lack of sufficient evidence speaks about a high degree of bias and control of the Ukrainian judicial system. For comparison: even in Nazi Germany the majority of members of the so-called ‘case of the burning of the Reichstag’ were acquitted in less than a year. In Ukraine this manipulated trial immediately transformed into a tool for the intimidation of dissent.

Despite such pressure, my voice wasn’t going to be silenced. Being released on bail, I continued on the pages of my blogs to speak out publicly about events in Ukraine. Having failed to silence me through legal pressure, supporters of the ‘revolutionary expediency’ went all out: on May 21st, 2015, I was charged with the suspicion of committing terrorist acts on the territory of Kharkov. Later the accusations of ‘creating and leading a terrorist organization’ and ‘separatism’ were added to this. The investigation on this case was repeatedly prolonged, and lasted a whole 10 months. The trial has lasted for already more than 18 months. As of August 1st, 2017, the court has only managed to read the indictment.

Court sessions are held on average no more than once per month, and often once every two months. And this, despite the request of their own Ukrainian legislation to consider cases of those who are under custody as a priority. Why is this happening? Obviously, because there are no grounds for a conviction, and on the other hand, the ‘objective conditions’ for the acquittal and release of me and my co-thinkers in Ukraine hasn’t ripened. That’s why they waste time, not rushing to take responsibility for repression. Thus, formally the only result of the trial becomes the ‘legitimate’ extension of our detention.

The fact that everything happens exactly in this way, for me, of course, isn’t surprising: people who came to power, having trampled on the Constitution, cannot continue as if nothing bad happened or to act within the framework of its provisions. Imitational ‘democracy’ turns into imitational ‘justice’. Against this background the only surprising thing is the calm attitude of some international organizations, who proclaim to ‘fight for human rights around the world’, but not in Ukraine. They never condemned the actions of the Ukrainian authorities against ‘counter-revolutionaries’.

The development of the situation in the country over the last three and a half years fully confirms a ‘classics’, well-known from the history books: ’civil war’, ‘intervention’, economic ‘devastation’, and the ‘independence of the Republics’. Now the citizens sitting in front of a blue screen and chewing popcorn observe with interest how another ‘revolution devours its own sons’. Meanwhile, outside the windows the ‘flywheel of repression’ again spins up and heads towards new ‘enemies of the people’.

Against the background of such consequences, resistance to the coup and a ‘new order’ was not just justified, but was the civic duty and the moral obligation of any honest person who realises the disastrous consequences of this historical drama. I am sure that history will completely acquit those who in this difficult hour weren’t afraid to defend legality and order. On the contrary, those who recited the oath to protect constitutional order, but in 2014 didn’t do this, history will severely condemn. I have nothing more to add.”

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