The Tatarintsev Case: The Court Found Out How The SBU Cooks Up Cases

At the latest court session concerning the case of Lugansk businessman Andrey Tatarintsev, who has been held in custody for almost 3.5 years, the trial of his charges of terrorism for providing humanitarian assistance to a children’s hospital and a blood transfusion station in the part of the Lugansk region not controlled by Ukraine continued.

Andrey is also accused of the ill-treatment of prisoners of war, i.e., of beating a UAF militant in the city of Snezhnoye, Donetsk region. At the session, it became known that the SBU proposed to Tatarintsev to incriminate himself and what constituted the LPR militia at the moment when Kiev sent tanks to Donbass.

Deflection of the ECHR and video discord

The session began with the request of the lawyer Vladimir Lyapin to provide the court with a statement on the issue of medicines and food to the diabetic Tatarintsev on the day of the trial, showing the list of issued medicines and a copy of the video recording, which shows how it is transferred to him.

The fact that Tatarintsev refused treatment, which the pre-trial detention center medical unit and the Zaporozhye branch of the Health Protection Center under the Ministry of Justice constantly talk about, must be recorded by the signature of the accused himself. The fact is that the ECHR planned on a priority basis (within the framework of rule 39 of its regulations) to consider a complaint of torture against Tatarintsev, which could lead to lethal consequences. By the end of January/beginning of February, the issue should have been resolved, but Ukraine sent to Strasbourg the journals of the medical unit of the isolation ward, not stipulated by law, which indicate that Andrey himself refuses treatment, but Andrey’s signature is not in the journals. Nevertheless, the ECHR found this to be sufficient and refused to give priority to the complaint, sending it to the standard procedure for consideration.

“Your Honour,” lawyer Lyapin began, “before this hearing, Tatarintsev was examined in the Volnyansky City Hospital. His sugar level is 24.5, despite the fact that at the beginning of the process it was not higher than 15. As a result, he was prescribed intravenous insulin. The pills, even if they are given to him, no longer help. This means that in addition to the injections themselves, dietary nutrition is necessary 5 times a day. If you use insulin without eating, he will fall into a coma. Today, before the meeting, as the convoy confirmed to us, none of this was received. The court has repeatedly demanded video recordings from the pre-trial detention centre, but the isolator does not fulfil the demands, and sends to the court statements not stipulated by law without Tatarintsev’s signature saying that he refuses to be treated. Now the journals in which they note that Andrey refuses treatment have been withdrawn. I.e., there are no more documents that the court could use to make sure whether he receives or does not receive medicines.”

“I fully object,” Prosecutor Kozakevich says. “The lawyer himself can make a request to the pre-trial detention centre if he needs a video recording.”

Rights of the accused beyond the powers of the court

Judge Malevanny takes out some paper.

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“We have a letter here, where it says that Tatarintsev is fed on a diet of 8B for diabetics, and on the day of the trial they provide additional food in the form of butter, boiled eggs, bread, hard cheese. The issue is recorded by the video recorder, and a special log for recording is not provided. The video is saved for 10 days.”

“At our hearing, endocrinologists said that this set of products is not a dietary food for a diabetic for the whole day,” the lawyer objects. “He can’t have butter at all.”

“I mean what,” the judge continues. “We saw some kind of obstacle at the last hearings. I assume that there is all of the above, and you are right to say that for a whole day for a diabetic, this is probably not enough. But that will change if we record on video the issuance of eggs?”

“Your Honour, we have a situation that we haven’t been able to solve for three years. You are now establishing that Tatarintsev does not receive dietary food, but according to the letter from the pre-trial detention centre, he does. How else can you figure it out if you don’t watch the video? He had already been prescribed insulin a week ago, but had not received a single injection. They can’t, because there’s no power. I can’t file a lawyer’s request, because the video is stored for only 10 days, and during this time the pre-trial detention centre simply will not have time to respond. And this question is fundamental for determining the measure of restraint. If we find out that they give him everything, but he refuses to take it, then it is true, and the court will extend the measure of restraint on the basis of this information. But if there is not…”

The court, after conferring on the spot, refuses the lawyer, but promises to once again send a letter to the pre-trial detention centre about the need to provide Tatarintsev with treatment and food.

“I would like to receive the court’s decision in writing with the motivational part, which will describe why the court refuses to ensure the rights of the accused, in order to challenge it in the highest instance. After all, we understand the consequences. After the process is completed, there will be an appeal. And there the question will arise whether Tatarintsev had the opportunity to fully exercise his defence, given the non-receipt of medicines and food. Maybe we will appeal this decision before the appeal or the ECHR.”

“What you are asking is beyond the powers of the court — such a motivation. You can take an extract from the meeting log and a video recording to challenge the decision in the highest court.”

“All right. Then I ask you to assign him an examination in a specialised institution – endocrinology of Zaporozhye city hospital No. 4 (this is the only specialised institution that we have left after the medical reform) – and ask the doctors whether the lack of medicines and nutrition at a sugar level of more than 20 affects the ability of the accused to perceive information and whether he can be aware of all actions.”

Compromises from the SBU

The court grants the request and proceeds to study the CD with the covert investigative (search) actions audio recording on it. The recording was secretly made by an employee of the SBU, who offered Tatarintsev a deal after 4 months of keeping him in an unsanctioned SBU detention centre.

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The SBU pre-trial detention centre is like Guantanamo, everyone knows that it exists, but it is not in the legislative field. The decisions of the investigating judge on the extension of the preventive measure during the investigation do not indicate the penitentiary institution where Tatarintsev was held before his transfer to the pre-trial detention centre in Volnyansk. I.e., according to the documents, they determined his detention, but they did not determine where to keep him. Former ombudswoman of Ukraine Valeriya Lutkovskaya repeatedly spoke about the illegality of such an institution, but she was naturally not heard, and then replaced by Lyudmila Denisova, who knows only about Sentsov and the Crimean Tatars from violations of rights in Ukraine.

“Would you like to see your wife?” the SBU employee asks on the recording.

“Four months here without access to the outside world. It’s hard psychologically. Of course I do.”

“I don’t mind, let her come. We’ll talk to a lawyer about it. And now I want to discuss your cooperation. We know a lot, but we need what we may not know.”

“I have nothing to hide. I see the victims for the first time. I was not in Snezhnoye as part of the militants. In 2015, the only time I visited Donetsk was through Snezhnoye, because direct passage from Lugansk to Donetsk was blocked from the Ilovaisk cauldron.”

“They’ve identified you.”

“I sincerely sympathise with them if they survived the torture, but I have nothing to do with it.”

“Okay, your version for April-May 2014.”

“I was in Krasnodon. I bought fuel in the Russian Federation from private suppliers and sold it. In May, the UAF began to bomb us, the first equipment went to Slavyansk and Debaltsevo. At first, the UAF opened fire from tanks, and the LPR had only machine guns, which they took from the SBU building. Only at the end of 2014 did modern technology began to appear. When the active phase of hostilities began, after June, the border was set between the LPR and the DPR, and it became possible to trade only in the Lugansk region. I drove the fuel truck twice a week. Several times I was caught by armed detachments, they took away fuel. In Krasnodon, we organised the headquarters of the people’s militia under the command of Gureyev. I knew him before, he worked in a pharmacy. We all knew each other there — the city is small. I was offered to join the militia, but I refused. At the headquarters, a board of trustees was created from entrepreneurs, who were obliged to raise money for pensioners, hospitals, etc. I had to regularly give fuel to the children’s hospital and the blood transfusion station. But what to take if trade went down and down? In 2016, my wife and I already thought that we should go somewhere. Perhaps to Russia, my wife is a citizen of the Russian Federation, her mother lives there. As a result, they went to Kiev to visit their brother-in-law. Now, I’ve told you all about it. I hope this will help to resolve the issue somehow.”

“The fact that you carried gasoline and you were paid is a crime, assistance to a terrorist organisation. Plus, you will be identified by the victims. But I am ready to help, so that it is not 15 years. Maybe lower than the lowest one, if you agree on reconciliation with the victims, — 8-10 years.”

“How is it 8-10 years? Why do I need dates then? Only to stir the soul.”

“And what did you think, that you are now going to tell something and that’s all?”

“I thought there would be a compromise.”

“We come to a compromise. You have aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.”

“With such a state of affairs, you can jail everyone. There, all the residents interacted in one way or another.”

“Well, what else can be offered is an exchange.”

“For the good of Tatarintsev”

As is known, at that time Tatarintsev refused to be exchanged. The court suspended the examination of the evidence, as working hours were running out and it was necessary to extend the preventive measure. It was, as always, extended, despite the fact that the prosecutor again read out the same request on two pages, without providing written evidence of the existence of risks. The main motive – Tatarintsev, not being in custody, can influence witnesses. To close this issue once and for all, lawyers Lyapin and Kravtsov demanded to change the order of examination of evidence and to call witnesses for the next hearings, which are to be held on February 15th and 16th. The court agreed, but then tried to pull off something completely unimaginable.

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“Since the next hearings are scheduled for the whole day, from morning to evening, and Tatarintsev needs to inject insulin and take appropriate food, which we cannot provide in court, it was decided to hold the sessions online.”

“Your Honour, come on…”

“It’s for the good of Tatarintsev. Here we can not help him, but in the pre-trial detention centre, if anything, we will take a break to take medicines and food.”

“We refuse. The accused will be present in the courtroom.”

“Ah, well, you have the right. Write a request saying that you want this,” the judges said, disclaiming responsibility for not providing the patient with medical care during the hearing, and ran out of the hall.


Pavel Volkov

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