ECtHR to consider the complaint concerning the case of Oleksii Kyselov, former commander of the Slavutych Ukrainian Navy ship

Russians kidnapped the former Ukrainian Navy officer in Henichesk, Kherson Region. They tortured the man and forced him to incriminate himself. Human rights activists are convinced that Kyselov’s case has all the signs of an enforced disappearance.
Maryna Harieieva16 October 2023UA DE EN ES FR IT RU

Олексій Кисельов. Фото: “Кримський процес” Алексей Киселев. Фото: “Крымский процесс”

Oleksii Kyselov. Photo: “Crimean Process”

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) will consider Ukraine’s application regarding Oleksii Kyselov, the former commander of the Ukrainian Navy ship Slavutych, whom Russians abducted.

The human rights organization CrimeaSOS reported this on September 14.

On November 28, 2022, CrimeaSOS human rights activists filed a complaint with the ECtHR.

According to lawyer Serhii Zaiets, the case of Oleksii Kyselov was the first known case that “demonstrates the persecution by the Russian authorities of Crimean residents who left the occupied territory after 2014 and self-organized to resist the occupiers actively”. Mr. Zaiets also emphasized that Kyselov’s case bears all the signs of an enforced disappearance.

He also listed several violations committed by the Russians against Oleksii Kyselov. These include torture, illegal deprivation of liberty, unlawful search, and theft of property (car).

“Probably, in the future, we can also talk about violations of the right to a fair trial,” the human rights activist believes.

The case of Oleksii Kyselov

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group wrote about the case of Oleksii Kyselov in February this year. Back then, the illegal Dzhankoy District Court in the temporarily occupied Crimea found the officer guilty of organizing a “sea blockade” and membership in the Crimean Tatar volunteer battalion named after Noman Chelebidzhykhan. Oleksii was sentenced to imprisonment for eight and a half years, with the first year in prison and the rest of the term in a maximum security penal colony.

On July 22, 2022, Russians abducted Oleksii Kyselov, a Captain 1st rank and former Ukrainian Navy Slavutych ship commander. After his resignation, Oleksii was engaged in public and business activities in Sevastopol. He moved to the Kherson region after the Russian Federation illegally occupied the Crimean Peninsula. In recent years, he has been engaged in volunteer activities and lived in the city of Henichesk.

Oleksii said that Russian representatives tortured him for a long time. They used electric shocks and beat him during so-called interrogations. The torture began when Kyselovv was illegally detained at the vocational school No. 17 in Genichesk, where a local Rosgvardia unit was based. According to the political prisoner, the torture lasted for five days. Russians demanded from Oleksii a video-recorded confession that he was leading a guerrilla movement, but the officer refused to give false testimony against himself. On July 27, 2022, the kidnapped Ukrainian was transferred to the building of the so-called “Crimean FSB Department” in Simferopol, where representatives of the Russian special services continued to torture him. Only after numerous tortures did the so-called FSB investigator conduct an “official detention” and open a criminal case.

As a result of the torture, the officer’s right arm gave out, and it was difficult for him to do anything with his left hand. Even holding a pen for a long time was problematic. The political prisoner himself repeatedly requested medical care. “I have broken ribs, dislocated joints in my arms and legs, and a broken tooth. We sent a complaint to the military investigation department of the Southern Military District. It brought a zero effect. No investigative measures are being taken regarding my torture complaint,” Oleksii wrote in one of his letters.

Let us remind you that, according to the Geneva Conventions, the failure to provide medical care to Ukrainian citizens who are being held in prisons by the Russian Federation without any grounds amounts to torture and violates the right to life. The Ukrainian human rights Ombudsperson noted that “the failure to provide proper medical care to Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by the Russian Federation is systemic.”

The Ukrainian human rights Ombudsperson noted that “the failure to provide proper medical care to Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by the Russian Federation is systemic.” The evidence of the so-called prosecution also raised doubts. You can read more about the absurdity of the accusations of a “naval blockade” that could not have been committed in the KHPG article.

The Representative Office of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea also condemned the groundless verdict. The Office considered the case to be fabricated. It emphasized that, in addition to the illegally detained officer being tortured, he was also denied medical care, which forced him to go on a hunger strike.

Enforced disappearances and invisible prisoners of the Kremlin

According to the KHPG director, Yevhen Zakharov, when we discuss the situation of civilians illegally detained by the Russians, we should talk about the crime of enforced disappearance.

“In many cases, we don’t know where our imprisoned civilian citizens are, in what conditions they are being held,” emphasized Yevhen Zakharov. He also noted that while the KHPG is handling about 200 cases of civilian and military prisoners, only in five cases do we have official information and know the exact location of the prisoners.

“In 48 more cases, we have unofficial information about the prisoners’ whereabouts,” added Yevhen Zakharov.

At the same time, human rights activists have repeatedly emphasized that illegal detention without a court order and enforced disappearances with concealment of a person’s whereabouts are gross violations of human rights and can be preliminarily qualified as a crime against humanity.

The database collected by the global human rights initiative “Tribunal for Putin” (T4P) currently contains information about five thousand civilian prisoners, illegally detained and missing persons. Still, the actual number may be twice as high. The cases documented by KHPG show that the number of enforced disappearances, the nature of their planning, and the identity of the scenarios may be evidence of the large-scale crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Federation’s representatives on the Ukraine territory. You can read more about the enforced disappearances in Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories from the beginning of the full-scale invasion until the end of March 2023 in the recent study of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, available here.

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