Ukrainian human rights defenders informed about massiveterror and intimidation of the inhabitants of Crimea by FSB officers. They are abducted and tortured for the purpose of obtaining false testimony and fabricating criminal cases concerning non-existent crimes.
On September 13, 2017, in the village of Nyzhniohirske in Crimea, unknown persons dressed in civilian clothes and with hidden faces broke into the home of Crimean Tatar Renat Paralamov. They have not shown documents, and turned all possessions in his house inside out, calling it a “search”. When Renat began to guess that it was not a gang, but representatives of the occupation authorities, he asked to call a lawyer, but they denied.
Edem Semedliaiev, an attorney of Renat, said that he would call such cases not a search, but an “attack”, since they usually occur by a large number of armed people who often break the door. “As soon as we knew about this assault, a lawyer was immediately sent there, but the FSB officers did not let him enter. The explanation was as follows: investigative actions have already begun, so the lawyer came late,” said Edem Semdliaiev.
After the search, Renat was kidnapped and taken without any explanation in an unknown direction. His lawyer was sent on the wrong track, telling him that the client was taken to the police unit. The human rights activist guessed that Renat was taken to FSB, and went there, but there he was told that a man with the name “Renat Paralamov” was not brought to the unit.
At that time, officials of the occupation authorities of Russia began to force Renat to sign documents with the content that he had not even guessed. When he refused to do this, the occupants began to beat him brutally, torture using an electric shock, choke and eventually dislocated his jaw. After he lost consciousness, the officers called a doctor. He quickly inspected Renat; later the tortures were resumed. Russian invaders beat the Ukrainian citizen for several hours. When he refused to sign documents, they threatened that they would rape him using a pipe, and then would do the same with his wife in front of him. After that, Renat agreed to sign the documents. They allegedly recorded his testimony about the hidden arsenal of weapons and ammunition, as well as his participation in non-existent terrorist organizations.
“They forced me to sign protocols. In these documents, I made a wrongful accusation concerning myself, my friends and everyone, whom they wanted,” said Renat Paralamov.
After Renat signed these documents, the Russian executioners told him that they could forget about these “crimes” if he agreed to work with them and write denunciations on other citizens. Renat refused to do it and eventually found him at the bus station in Simferopol in the extremely difficult situation the next morning.
The lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Denys Rabomizo reminded that torture is forbidden. No representative of any state under any circumstances has the right to torture citizens. “There are two categories of affected people: one part of the people is ready to talk about torture, and the other one is silent because of fear that it may happen again. Since the Crimean occupation, there have been dozens of such cases. We urge the victims of torture not to remain silent, but to seek an objective investigation. We will defend your interests in the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Committee against Torture. This is the only effective method of combating torture. Only such a way we can stop them,” said Denys Rabomizo.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to investigate torture with the help of the Russian law-enforcement system: after the kidnapping of Renat Paralamov, his lawyers wrote dozens of complaints to various authorities in Russia, and no attention was paid to them. The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea cannot conduct investigative actions on the territory of the peninsula, therefore all its actions are limited.
Yulia Usenko, a prosecutor of the Department for Supervision over the Observance of Laws in Criminal Proceedings and the Prevention of Corruption of the Supervisory Authority in the Criminal Proceedings of the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office, said that her department could carry out effective investigations precisely through cooperation with the victims. The prosecutor said that in the case of Renat Paralamov, investigative actions were already being conducted under the articles “Torture”, “Illegal deprivation of liberty” and “Illegal penetration into housing” of the Criminal Code.
“We conducted a series of investigative actions and identified a person, who participated in tortures. We have declared suspicion against Andrii Sushko, a former SBU employee, who has now switched to working for FSB. Soon he will be wanted,” said Yulia Usenko.
Enver Kadyrov, head of the NGO Crimean Human Rights Movement, reminded that torture used by law enforcement officers is a Russian practice, which is now also used on the territory of Ukraine in Crimea. “The tortures are widespread in the regions with the Muslim population. But those who torture only fulfill the will of their superiors in the Kremlin,” said Enver Kadyrov.
Tamila Tasheva, Coordinator of the Crimean NGO “CrimeaSOS”, called on the Ukrainian authorities to adopt the Law on Political Prisoners and Victims of Repression in the Crimea as soon as possible.
By Oleh Shynkarenko, especially for the Livyy Bereh. Photo by the author