Today there will be the next court hearing of the case of Andrij Kolomiets in Simferopol. The judge is Andrij Belousov. He is one of Crimean judges, against whom the Prosecutor General's Office has opened criminal proceedings upon the treason. Kolomiets’ case was transferred to "Kyiv District Court" of Simferopol in January, but the hearing of his case was postponed five times, mostly because of the absence of witnesses.
Why is the information about Kolomiets so interesting? Because he is a political prisoner, whom we still do not know a lot about.
To the anniversary of Maidan
The first mention about Andrij Kolomiets appeared on the anniversary of shootings on the Maidan. There is an information that the resident of Kyiv Region, who was born in 1993, charged with attempted murder of two employees of the Crimean Special Forces "Berkut". Andrij allegedly threw the bottles with burning mixture into them while the confrontation in Kyiv. Besides of that, he is charged with storage and transportation of drugs plants in a large amount. If Kolomiets is convicted in the Crimean "court", he will face up to 20 years’ prison.
As far as it is known, Euromaidan activist was arrested in spring, 2015, on the territory of Russia. After that, he was transferred to occupied Crimea. Since the 13th of August the activist was held in the Simferopol jail. The activists of the “Crimean Human Rights Group” found out, that relatives of Andrij did not know his whereabouts until January 2016. They learnt about detainee from the information about him published on the website of the "prosecution" of Crimea.
In September 2015, "the prosecutor" of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaya gave an interview to "RIA Novosti", where she spoke about new case of another Euromaidan activist, adding that the suspect is a citizen of Russia, not Ukraine.
"One more criminal case is being investigated. It will be sent to the court soon. The accused is charged with attempted murder of employees of the Crimean Special Forces "Berkut". The detention was carried out six months ago in one of the regions of Russia, after which the accused was transferred to Crimea. He is a citizen of Russia, but not Crimean", – said Poklonskaya.
It is unknown, if Poklonskaya spoke exactly about Kolomiets. She found it unnecessary to say the name of the person of such a high profile case. The time of detention of Andrij coincides, but the issue of nationality remains a mystery. But at that time "the prosecutor" of Crimea has compared this accusation with the Kostenko’s case. "He was on the Maidan and took part in riots like Kostenko," – she said.
Why does Russia want Kostenko-2?
Similarity of cases of Andrij Kolomiets and of Crimean political prisoner Olexander Kostenko is obvious. Both were suspected in "committing crimes" in Kyiv while Euromaidan. Olexander was judged by Point "b" Part 2 of Art. 115 CC RF ( "Intentional infliction of light health harm that caused the short-term health disorder, committed for reasons of ideological hatred or enmity"), Andrij was judged by Part 3 of Art. 30 - Points "a", "b", "e" and "l" Part 2 Art. 105 (“Attempt to murder of two persons in connection with their work, committed in dangerous way, for reasons of political and ideological hatred). In addition, both have an aggravated article: Kostenko “had” an element of weapon, and in Kolomiets “had” drugs.Russian lawyer Dmitro Sotnikov, who protects Kostenko’s interests, believes that Russia will try to do something what it could not manage with Kostenko, that is to condemn the events of Maidan.
"According to the final report of Ella Pamfilova (Commissioner for Human Rights in Russian Federation – ed.), of 2015, Kostenko is convicted of preparing a terrorist act in Crimea. And where are these preparations? Any of them is mentioned no in a sentence neither in indictment. They wanted to have another type of case – not with light health harm and storage of weapons components, but with teract. But they could not manage that. Nobody of Ukrainian political prisoners has three years and six months’ imprisonment. That is why now they are focused on preparing "normal" terms. The case of Kolomiets proves this," – the lawyer says.
The Head of the Crimean Human Rights Group Olga Skrypnyk also sees the trail of Russia in this case as another attempt to condemn the events in Ukraine.
"Remember, how Natalia Poklonskaya speaks about Kostenko. She notices, that not just only Kostenko is judged in Crimea, but people of Maidan. And this is just the continuation of this strategy. People are becoming just victims. And the machine condemns the events in Ukraine, namely, on the Maidan. In this regard, the case of Andrij is like the condemnation of the idea. If he was not the Euromaidan activist, probably he would not be in the Simferopol jail," – Skrypnyk said.
Every lawyer is different
Andrij Kolomiets had at least two lawyers who protected his interests, but nobody of them has made any public comments about the case. According to Olga Skrypnyk, one of them was appointed by the Russian authorities, and he was not interested in a full-fledged protection of Kolomiets. Moreover, he even had never visited his client. Probably, Andrij could not refuse the service of such a lawyer immediately. Dmytro Sotnikov supposes, Kolomiets and his family could be just under the "pressure".
"Of course it is possible to change any lawyer. But a person in a jail is in closed space... If a person refuses the service of one lawyer, "the case" will find the same one. It is also possible that a person, his family and a local lawyer can be intimidated. Really, there is no freedom of choice at all. It is one thing when a lawyer comes from "outside", he is really ready to protect the interests of his client. The other thing is when relatives can not invite anybody, when they are intimidated: "Invite a lawyer from another region, and your son may be killed accidentally in the camera" and so on," – the lawyer supposes.
According to Skrypnyk’s words, now Kolomiets has a lawyer, who is willing to protect fully his interests. The same as the previous one, he did not comment the case. The human rights activist thinks that it is not connected with the lack of interest to his client.
"We need to have a clear understanding of the fact, that a lawyer is not obliged to comment or to disclose his case, because there is an advocacy secret. There are no complaints on this issue. Now the main thing is to be accurate with this case in order not to disserve. There is one of the most important trials ahead. After that we will know the strategy of "the prosecutor's office", and if there is any chance at least to reduce the sentence of Andrij", – Skrypnyk said.
We should not expect happy final of the Kolomiets’ case. Experts consider, that it has an openly political character. It means, Euromaidan activist can not count upon the full acquittal.
"I think they will bring the case to the end. All such kinds of cases are made in order to prove some historical concept, which is promoted today by Russia. As we can see, the case of Mykola Karpyuk is maintained in order to show that Ukrainians were fighting in Chechnya. The case of Savchenko concerns Donetsk issue, the case of Litvinov – Lugansk, Kostenko – Maidan and Crimea. But here they could not manage. The case of Kolomiets is a good chance for the Crimean prosecutor's office to prove the opposite," – Sotnikov supposed.
Olga Skrypnyk considers, that the case is farfetched, and she fears, that Kolomiets can get a serious sentence.
"The case is completely fabricated and has a lot of similar with the case of Kostenko. But here everything is even much worse, than in the Olexander’s case. They try to join the articles to his case, that cause much more severe punishment – not three or five years in prison, but all 20 years", – Skrypnyk says.