Ukraine's Ombudsperson Liudmyla Denisova has called on the international community to react to the use of torture by Russia's FSB against Ukrainian journalist Vladyslav Yesipenko who is being unlawfully held in the occupied Crimea.
On April 6, at a hearing in the so-called "Supreme Court of Crimea," Yesipenko spoke up about torture applied to him in custody Denisova wrote on Telegram.
Read alsoWife of journalist unlawfully detained in Crimea calls on Zelensky to help secure his releaseAccording to the journalist, on March 10, unidentified men wearing balaklavas drove him away in an unmarked car with the use of physical force, then illegally holding him for two days in a basement in the Balaklava district of the city of Sevastopol, which is not an official detention site.
Yesipenko said he was subjected to torture and unlawful methods of interrogation implying ill-treatment: interrogators would put a plastic bag over his head to make him experience air shortage, connect electric wires to various parts of his body and electrify him, as well as severely beat the journalist and threatened with murder by hanging him in his cell – all to force a confession out of him.
"As it turned out later, these people were FSB operatives," Denisova said.
The journalist told the "court" that he had confessed under pressure, so he recalled his earlier testimony.
The ombudsperson said by such illegal actions, the FSB operatives had violated his right to life, liberty and safety, the right to a fair trial, as well as to an effective remedy provided for in Articles 2, 5, 6, 13 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
There was also a violation of Article 3 of the same Convention, which provides that "[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
"I believe such actions by representatives of law enforcement agencies are unacceptable and that they must be brought to justice. I appeal to Russian Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova to immediately restore the rights of our compatriot Vladyslav Yesipenko and verify the facts of his unlawful detention, further unlawful custody remand, and torture," Denisova said.
She has also appealed to Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov, and Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin to urgently take measures to respond to the commission of criminal actions by FSB officers against Yesipenko.
Denisova has called on UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden Ms. Ann Linde, Chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture Jens Modvig and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović to respond to gross violations of human rights by the occupying authorities on the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea and increase pressure on the Russian Federation demanding the release of all illegally detained citizens of Ukraine.
On March 10, 2021, Yesipenko was detained by Russia's FSB in temporarily occupied Crimea.
He was charged with committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 223.1 of the Criminal Code of Russia (illegal manufacture, processing or repair of firearms, their main parts (except for firearms of limited destruction), as well as illegal manufacture of ammunition). The article provides for imprisonment for up to five years. Later, the invaders added suspicion of espionage.
The court ruled to keep Yesipenko in custody until May 11.
Later, RFE/RL announced that Yesipenko had been cooperating with their project Krym.Realii.
Lawyers Emil Kurbedinov Alexey Laden, with whom Yesipenko's wife stroke a deal, are not allowed to see the defendant.
On March 19, Kateryna Yesipenko called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the international community to help release her husband. She also stated about the pressure and torture that the occupiers had applied to her husband. She said she was afraid for his life.