Tortured in a SBU Basement: The Case of Former “Berkut” Member Viktor Tetyutsky

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Recently extensive material on the case of the act of terrorism at the Sports palace in Kharkov on February 22nd, 2015, was published. The other day we managed to communicate a bit with one of the political prisoners involved in this case who is now in No. 27 pre-trial detention center, having being handed a small list of questions.

Viktor Tetyutsky is a Kharkov citizen who was crushed by the authorities, just because earlier he served in the special forces “Berkut” that is forbidden today, and he has his point of view concerning the political events in Ukraine and the coup in 2014, different from the nationalism and neo-nazism that is flaunted by current politicians. Together with him Vladimir Dvornikov and Sergey Bashlykov, about who he mentions in his response, are also involved in this case.

In the past you were an Antimaidan activist in Kharkov – you went to Kiev on Maidan, trying to rescue guys from “Berkut”, and defended the monument to Lenin. What induced you to rise against the “will of the people” and be finally brought to where you now are?

“There were several motives that induced me to rise, as you said. Firstly, I stayed quite a long time in ‘Berkut’, consequently, I couldn’t just look on as my guys were burning on Maidan. Secondly, I pathologically can’t tolerate Ukrainian fascist beasts and the imposition of their narrow-minded ideas that come from their masters. Well, and also many other factors that normal people are guided by.”

Can you tell us in detail about your arrest in 2015? It is known that you were tortured and beaten for a long time, beating out from you a confession of committing an act of terrorism.

“Concerning my arrest and stay in the SBU, not much can be written about the first days of detention, I will only say that the torture really were various and lasted not one day. Also I will add that the fact of existence of injuries was established by a forensic scientist both at me and the guys who are involved in this case. However, the process is on standby, which was rather expected.

The main tortures happened during the first days – I don’t even want to remember it – the Gestapo has nothing on it. Further, after about a month it was simpler: a bag on the head is routine, so it is possible to say that they didn’t torture, but simply frightened.”

You found yourself in an ambulance after the abuse of the first days. Were you provided with full medical care there?

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“Medical care wasn’t provided in the ambulance. Moreover, then in the documents they specified only what was impossible to hide. Head injuries, broken ribs, wounds to internal organs – nobody recorded it. However, it isn’t surprising, after all, everything happened in the presence of a SBU escort. It is good that they mentioned at least something, and this something was rather enough for the forensic scientist.”

Was your family threatened if you didn’t sign a confession?

“I don’t understand exactly what you mean – receiving threats concerning my relatives? For example, allegedly my parents weren’t threatened, only my wife was frightened during the search. While I, in the time spent in the SBU basement, was intimidated with punishment vis-a-vis my family. This became one of the decisive factors that forced me to sign all the papers that were given. After continuous hours-long torture, the threats seemed to be quite real.”

How were you treated in the pre-trial detention center? Were your civil rights violated?

“I don’t have anything special to say about the pre-trial detention center. Maybe just that at the beginning, for the purpose of moulding me on the SBU’s order, already after the refusal in court from the earlier-signed confessions and testimonies, they brought us to more strict camps. Bashlykov and I were sequentially brought to colony No. 100, and Dvornikov in colony No. 43, where he currently is. In comparison with the SBU all of this is mere trifles, they can’t break us with this. And so I have the same conditions as the rest. However, for one and a half years I was kept in the basement in the 2nd corpus near those who have life sentences.”

Did you ask international legal organizations for help? Did you receive any response?

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“International organizations simply prepare their reports, they can’t give any help, and they admit this themselves. ‘I didn’t contact any Russian organizations, while Dvornikov literally the other day submitted an appeal to the Investigative Committee, however, the result is still unknown.”

I know that your case is falsified, however many things remain over the horizon. Can you describe what they are?

“In the case practically all protocols are falsified, and those that are not falsified don’t carry any semantic load. Here, look:

a) at the time of the explosion there is no proof of my presence at the scene. Practically, at this time, I, more precisely – my car, was at another place. There is CCTV footage from the cameras in the parking lot of the Digma supermarket near Kharkov Tractor Plant (about 8-12 km from the Sports palace, depending on the supermarket address);

b) explosives (C-4 and grenades) were planted on the table of a child during a search in front of her eyes;

c) not one single ‘fact’ specified by the prosecutor in the indictment doesn’t coincide with the information of mobile operators;

d) not one single examination proved my involvement in the act of terrorism: there are neither prints, DNA traces, nor anything else;

e) things and objects that were confiscated during the search disappeared from the case materials, for example, a netbook, keys, car contents, and so on;

f) my car was hijacked by law enforcement bodies, and issued gross violations of the law a week later;

g) my detention happened illegally without any grounds, court judgements, etc.;

h) the lawyer wasn’t allowed to defend me, and on this fact a case was also opened;

i) well, and so on.”

How is the consideration of the case moving ahead? Do you believe a fair verdict – and this means acquittal – will be given to you?

“The process isn’t at all considered in any way, the presence in the courtroom of the employee of the SBU (Petrov A.) plays its part. The court closes its eyes to everything. They just try to thumb through the case, in fact nobody studies it. By the way, Petrov also participated in torture. Everything happened from the direct permission of the procedural head, the prosecutor Lymar V. L. (he also ‘considered’ the case of Larisa Chubarova, who was recently given a sentence of 11 years of prison), now he represents the prosecution. Here you have a completely fair trial. Lymar will unambiguously ask for everyone a life sentence, it is not difficult to guess what will be given, it is seen in their attitude. The only thing that can save us from this is an exchange, well, or a change of government. Only in this case is it possible to expect an objective decision. Generally, a verdict unambiguous will be accusatory – but we don’t surrender, we fight!”

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