May 30, 2023

Crimean Hostages


Crimean Hostages
A penitential center in Moscow.  Senate of Russian Federation, Flickr.

Meduza journalists discovered a secret jail in Crimea where Ukrainian civilians are being held. The center, at Simferopol’s pre-trial detention center, is controlled by the Russian FSB.

According to Meduza, Ukrainian prisoners are separated from the rest of the prison population, and their presence in the pre-trial detention center is carefully hidden: only specially admitted persons have access to the closed institution. Ukrainians who managed to escape from the secret prison have said they were brutally abused: guards strangled, beat, and tortured them with electricity.

Among the jail's prisoners are political activists, volunteers, and people who participated in anti-Russian rallies in the occupied territories of Ukraine. Most of the prisoners do not have any legal status. Some of them are being prosecuted, including on charges of terrorism or attempting to commit a terrorist act. In most cases, prisoners cannot contact the outside world, and their detention in the prison is known only after their release.

Meduza reports that there are similar secret prisons in other regions of Russia. They are controlled not by the FSB, but by the Military Police Department of the Ministry of Defense. At the same time, the exact number of detained Ukrainian civilians can only be estimated.

According to the Verkhovna Rada's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmitry Lubinets, the Russian Federation is illegally detaining about 20,000 Ukrainians.

Ukrainian authorities and various NGO organizations, such as the Every Human Being Project, are looking for Ukrainian civilians detained in Russia or in the occupied territories. From time to time Ukrainian authorities are able to free them.

International law prohibits the imprisonment of civilians not serviing in the armed forces.

 

 

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