On March 10, 2021 the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (the FSB) detained Mr. Vladyslav Yesypenko, a Ukrainian national, in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. According to preliminary information, Mr.Yesypenko was detained due to his political views after attending a rally on the occasion of Taras Shevchenko's birthday, held in Simferopol on March 9, 2021.
On March 12, the ‘Kievsky District Court of Simferopol’, controlled by the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea, ruled to keep Mr.Yesypenko in custody for two months, until May 11. The detainee is accused of committing a crime under the RF Criminal Code Art. 223.1-1 - illegal manufacture, processing or repair of firearms, its main parts (except for firearms of limited action), as well as illegal manufacture of ammunition. However, it is quite possible that the FSB will add new articles of prosecution. On March 16, the RF FSB claimed that Vladyslav Yesypenko might have been engaged in the "intelligence and subversive activity in the interests of the Ukrainian security services", i.e. ‘he had been taking photo and video records of the locations, critical public infrastructure, and public attended places’ on Crimea.
At the moment, Mr. Vladyslav Yesypenko, a Ukrainian national, is deprived of the right to defense because independent lawyers are not allowed to visit him. Instead, without his consent, he was appointed a lawyer, Violetta Synieglazova, who has repeatedly been involved in the politically motivated cases against Ukrainian nationals, in fact defending the interests of the investigation rather than her client.
In our opinion, these facts may indicate that Mr.Yesypenko has been subjected to illegal methods of investigation, including physical and psychological violence, attempts to deprive him of his right to defense during pre-trial and trial proceedings in order to persecute him for political reasons.
We, the representatives of human rights organizations, condemn the politically motivated detention of Vladyslav Yesypenko in the temporarily occupied Crimea caused by his civil position, and demand the Russian authorities to:
- immediately release Mr.Yesypenko and all political prisoners kept in places of unfreedom in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol or in the Russian Federation;
- stop persecuting the Crimeans for disagreeing with the occupation and expressing their views;
- immediately stop the enforcement of Russian Federation criminal laws in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
We are calling the international organizations and governments of democratic states:
- to apply to the Russian Federation demanding to inform immediately about the exact place where Mr.Yesypenko is now, his state of health and to allow the independent lawyers to visit him;
- condemn the actions of the Russian Federation regarding the political persecution of Ukrainian activists in the occupied Crimea;
- increase pressure on the Russian government to secure the release of all political prisoners and stop the persecution of Ukrainian nationals in the occupied Crimea;
- tighten sector sanctions against the Russian Federation for consistent gross human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the occupied Crimea;
- impose personal sanctions against officials of the occupying authorities of Crimea and the Russian Federation who are involved in politically motivated persecution of Ukrainian nationals for their views and civil position;
- facilitate the monitoring of trials of Ukrainian nationals in Russian courts and Crimean “courts” controlled by the occupying power;
- Facilitate the work of independent monitoring missions of the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe with a mandate to monitor the human rights situation in Crimea, which will act with the permission of the Ukrainian authorities and in consultation with Ukrainian and international non-governmental organizations.
We are calling President of Ukraine, Parliament of Ukraine, Ministry of Re-Integration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, Prosecutor’s Office of the ARC and Sevastopol City to:
- ensure the effective investigation of the facts of illegal detention and persecution of Vladyslav Yesypenko and all other facts of gross violations of fundamental human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea;
- adopt a necessary framework law of Ukraine in order to ensure the protection and state support of persons who are illegally deprived of their liberty as a result of Russian aggression;
- approve the bill registered as 2689 to harmonize criminal law with the provisions of international law and to introduce liability for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
Crimean Human Rights Group
Association of the Kremlin Political Prisoners’ Relatives
Crimean Tatar Resource Center
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
KRYM SOS PA
Center of Civil Liberties
Media Initiative Group for Human Rights
ZMINA Human Rights Center
ALMENDA Civil Education Center
Regional Human Rights Center
Human Rights House Crimea
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group