By Pavel Kanygin, special correspondent to Novaya Gazeta, re: letter from Ukrainian political prisoner in Russia Stanislav Klykh
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
In his letter from the Verkhneuralsk [penal] colony [Chelyabinsk Oblast of Russia] to special correspondent Pavel Kanygin, Ukrainian Stanislav Klykh talks about prison life and says that he is now refusing to eat, demanding a transfer to another institution of the FSIN [Federal Penitentiary Service]. Klykh also complains about the inaction of Ukrainian authorities who, in his opinion, are not taking the necessary efforts to free their citizens. In an earlier letter to Klykh, the editors asked about his everyday life and expectations regarding the exchange of prisoners between Moscow and Kyiv.
To recap earlier events: in 2016 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic sentenced school history teacher Stanislav Klykh to 20 years in a maximum-security colony for participating in the first Chechen war on the side of the separatists. Russian security officials arrested Klykh in August of 2014, when he arrived in Orel, Russia while visiting an acquaintance. Later, the Ukrainian was sent to Chechnya, where the [court] process began. Another Ukrainian citizen, Mykola Karpyuk, was tried as part of the same proceedings as Klykh. In addition to Klykh and Karpyuk, the investigators also accused Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the “Right Sector” movement (banned in the Russian Federation), of participation in the Chechen war. The Ukrainians’ lawyers and human rights activists said that the process was political and pointed out numerous mistakes and inconsistencies in the indictment. Klykh and Karpuk themselves did not admit their guilt, claiming in court that they had perjured themselves after being tortured with electric shocks. The Grozny court ignored their statements.
Stanislav Klykh’s letter to Novaya Gazeta:
I received your letter of 30.03.2018. So to avoid any issues with censorship, I’m not going to write anything about everyday life in prison. I have a TV set, which picks up 5 channels (NTV, TVC, “Culture,” “OTV-Verkhneuralsk” and “Match!” [sports channel]); I’m not allowed an antenna for stronger TV reception, nor a radio. [The prison has] a radio receiver, which occasionally plays radio stations based from Uchaly (Bashkiria), Magnitogorsk and Ufa.
I am demanding a transfer to another institution of the FSIN – to this end, I am refusing breakfast and lunch. I can say that local food, unlike the one I was getting in the Grozny SIZO [pre-trial detention], is disgusting and inedible.
My chances for the transfer aren’t looking good – it seems that the jailers here have hunkered down to avoid any possible inspections from Moscow in the unlikely case that I do get transferred. It’s more likely that they keep me here and start force-feeding me.
I’m bored of the TV (I’ve had the Horizont TV set since October 2017), and mostly, of the books as well. On 20.03 the consul brought me giant encyclopedias about the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Tyumen oblasts [of Russia]. In theory, they can be an interesting read, to learn about the territory where I’m held. The most difficult thing is to overcome the pain in my eyes, caused by the enclosed space, lack of oxygen and nervous strain; some prisoners actually lose their eyesight in these conditions. In prison, time passes much more slowly during the day than at night. You just want to fall asleep and not wake up, death becomes desirable. Reading the letters brings some relief, as they bring the feeling of hope. I believe that prisoners must have access to the internet and social networks in order to defend their rights, contest their verdicts and form public opinions, as well as access to so-called “porn.” I’m sure there would be much less suicidal behaviour in that case. Obviously, this isolation is beneficial for the opponents, because it strips the convicts of the opportunity to influence their situation by attempting to change the verdict, improve their prison conditions, etc.
Concerning any work that the Ukrainian authorities may be doing to ensure my exchange or freedom, I can say that I don’t have the full picture of the events, due to lack of access to information.
For two years now (three, even!), I get New Year’s greetings from President Poroshenko and [Ukrainian Foreign] Minister Klimkin.
For almost a year after my detention, the consuls were “unaware” of my location, and only started visiting me after I’d been transferred to the Grozny SIZO. How can I be satisfied with their “efforts” if I’m still not home? Based on this, I can conclude that the situation is controlled by a certain pool of media oligarchs and special services, from both sides, who decide who should be let go and who should stay in prison. Some (Grytsenko, Gubarev, Yurchenko) are allowed to walk almost right away; others, apparently due to specific reasons or allegiances, have to spend years waiting for their exchange/freedom.
Immediately after my arrest, in the Yessentuki temporary detention facility, I learned that Dmitry Soin was arrested in Kyiv in August 2014; apparently, there were plans to exchange him for me. But today, Soin is acting as the authorized person of Sergey Baburin for the [Russian presidential] election (until 18.03.2018); turns out that he was let go, as was Klinchayev. Now, thanks to my mother and, to a large degree, to you, the issue with Victor Ageyev is on the table; I hope it will finally get a positive resolution, to mine and his mutual benefit.
Pavel! I’ve been sent the article by Rimma Akhmirova [contributor to the Sobesednik newspaper – ed.] of 14.02.2018, titled “Welcomed Among Strangers.” Please let her know that I am not, and never have been, an activist for the “Right Sector.” From 2004 to 2014, that is, until my arrest in Orel, I was a member of the Party of Regions, which can be proven by my party ID card, which, hopefully, survives back in Kyiv. I have worked on developing PR offices in Kyiv, specifically in the Dniepr and Obolonsky rains [districts], and organized the work of party headquarters and election commissions.
Because of this, I request that I’m not referred to as a political prisoner – at the time of my entry into Russia, I was fairly tolerant (apolitical) towards the Russian Federation authorities and the Russian political system, which is more than can be said about my views on them today.
Unlike Karpyuk, I had not been lured out to negotiate with the Russian authorities. I crossed the border without incident, and was arrested the following day in Orel, which I was visiting by invitation of Victoria Simonova-Skobeleva, whom I had met in Crimea previously, long before the Maidan events.
Due to this, I request that both you and Rimma refer to me in the future as “Stanislav Klykh, sex tourist from Kyiv.” It is a well-known fact of Crimean life that Russian women are easier than Ukrainian ones.
Pavel! Come visit Verkhneuralsk – this year, the city celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Dutov Rebellion. Verkhneuralsk was the rebellion’s stronghold. Attorney Ilya Novikov mentioned that 100 years ago, mass executions happened here. Let’s talk about restoring peaceful relations.
Stanislav Klykh, Verkhneuralsk, FKU-T
Source: Novaya Gazeta
VoU note: Stanislav Klykh was convicted to 20 years of imprisonment after being declared guilty of the killing of Russian soldiers during the Chechen war. This happened despite the fact that the Ukrainian assured he had never taken part in combat and never even visited Chechnya. On October 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic refused to set free Stanislav Klykh and Mykola Karpyuk.
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