NODUS Ukraine: Helping wounded Ukrainian soldiers with brain trauma and spinal cord injuries

From information provided by Yuliya Grassby, a former NODUS nurse volunteer (all photos from Yulia Grassby)
11.21.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

NODUS is the only private Neurorehabilitation and Neurosurgery Centre in Ukraine, the clinic opened it’s doors in 2008. It runs a non-profit Nodus Charity Project for Wounded Ukrainian Soldiers which began in August of 2014 specifically to give help to wounded Ukrainian soldiers with brain trauma injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Dr. Ulyana Suprun, the Acting Minister of Health in Ukraine (pictured in red shirt), and other Ukrainian government officials visit NODUS to learn about their practices. They acknowledged the NODUS team, their quality services and high recovery success rates.

Dr. Ulyana Suprun, the Acting Minister of Health in Ukraine (pictured in red shirt), and other Ukrainian government officials visit NODUS to learn about their practices. They acknowledged the NODUS team, their quality services and high recovery success rates.

Yuliya Grassby worked as a hands-on nurse volunteer with injured soldiers in the clinic at NODUS from March-August 2016. She writes, “My work schedule was from 9 am to 9 pm, Monday through Friday. I cried and I laughed with my soldier patients. I listened to their battlefield experiences and taught them positive thinking and optimism. I know their pain from the inside and how they fight to survive. They came back alive from the war, but Ukrainian society is not ready to take them back and provide a quality life for people in a wheelchair. Rehabilitation is their chance to walk again and to live, and not just to survive. I feel this group of people is being sacrificed – and that is why I am a strong advocate for them.

I have researched thousands of charity organizations, big and small, related to healthcare issues in today’s world. Almost all of them are focused on AIDS/HIV, TB, malaria, child or maternal health, clean water, etc.  They all set their goals some years ago and are not able to be flexible.

The harsh reality currently facing Ukraine, in the official statistics given out by the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is that since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014, over 9,640 people have been killed and over 22,431 were wounded among Ukrainian armed forces as at Sept. 15, 2016. Every day, more and more soldiers, who fight so fearlessly to protect their country, get seriously wounded on the battlefield and the military hospitals accept dozens of these heroes daily. They risk their lives because they want to secure a better future for the country. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian healthcare system is not as advanced as it is in the Western world or in North America. Because of economic difficulties, the Ukrainian government is unable to provide sufficient funds to the hospitals so that doctors can get everything they need to save as many wounded soldiers as possible. This is well known now.

NODUS' ATO Ward 1: Volunteers Yuliya Grassby and James Clement visit wounded soldiers to talk about the war, their experiences and the future of Ukraine. Iliya Karpov (ATO volunteer participant/standing, suffered a brain trauma injury in January of 2015; he has had 3 rounds of rehabilitation at Nodus since February 2015 – was in a coma, then in a wheelchair, then used a cane – and this past summer, Iliya started his third round of rehabilitation to begin walking without a cane). Artur Kireev (officer, in yellow t-shirt) and Sergey Saliy (officer, in green t-shirt) were both wounded with spinal cord injuries. Artur graduated with a military degree. Sergey was a volunteer soldier.

NODUS’ ATO Ward 1: Volunteers Yuliya Grassby and James Clement visit wounded soldiers to talk about the war, their experiences and the future of Ukraine. Iliya Karpov (ATO volunteer participant/standing, suffered a brain trauma injury in January of 2015; he has had 3 rounds of rehabilitation at Nodus since February 2015 – was in a coma, then in a wheelchair, then used a cane – and this past summer, Iliya started his third round of rehabilitation to begin walking without a cane). Artur Kireev (officer, in yellow t-shirt) and Sergey Saliy (officer, in green t-shirt) were both wounded with spinal cord injuries. Artur graduated with a military degree. Sergey was a volunteer soldier.

I worked as a nurse volunteer in Ukraine for eight months most recently. These are some facts that I learned while living and doing volunteer work in Ukraine:

  1. Military hospitals in Ukraine (including leading ones such as Irpen and Lviv) focus to help TBI and SCI injured soldiers mostly with acute care.  There are no individual neurorehabilitation programs – only standard protocols, standard timeframes. When you’re acute care is over, you are on your own. They practice survival skills (no quality of life training) – no walking, no work-related therapy or assistance.  Ukraine does not have the same “Americans with Disabilities (ADA)” laws to protect the rights of these injured soldiers. Ukraine is not yet ready to provide a quality life for disabled people.
  1. Major military hospitals in Ukraine have some help from Ukrainian and international charitable foundations.  However, injured soldiers with TBI and SCI often “do not fit” under the criteria for financial assistance. Often it is too long to wait and too expensive. The major military hospitals leave much to be desired!
  1. Ukrainian military hospitals no longer admit volunteer soldiers, only regular military servicemen. It is not really fair, but it is a reality.

I feel so sorry for these brave soldiers who risked their lives to protect the country and are now left on their own to practice a “survival of the fittest” situation.

NODUS is located just outside Kyiv, in Brovary, Ukraine. I am now one of the NODUS Charity Project representatives and volunteers in the United States.

In August of 2014, the private neurological and neurosurgical rehabilitation research center created and implemented a non-profit Charity Project for Wounded Soldiers.  This is the only private clinic in Ukraine that runs such a project. Under the umbrella of the charity project, medical care is provided to both servicemen and soldier-volunteers in the outpatient and clinic-based formats. Most of the soldiers the clinic treats are gravely injured and most of them have severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI). Rehabilitation for each patient is protracted, lasting a minimum of three to six months on average, and may run up to 12 months or longer. Treatment expenses for each patient may run about from $2000 to $4000 a month based on each individual case.

NODUS’ ATO Ward 1: Soldiers Vasiliy Mihailenko (tankist, injured right arm) and Artur Kireev after their procedures and individualized exercise programs. In order to survive and to ensure successful treatment, they practice a sense of humor. You cannot go through the many rough times without a good laugh.

NODUS’ ATO Ward 1: Soldiers Vasiliy Mihailenko (tankist, injured right arm) and Artur Kireev after their procedures and individualized exercise programs. In order to survive and to ensure successful treatment, they practice a sense of humor. You cannot go through the many rough times without a good laugh.

As of August 2016, 142 Ukrainian soldiers have gone through the individual rehabilitation programs.  The clinic covered 100% of the treatment costs for 119 of them.  Twenty-three soldiers received a 25% discount for their rehabilitation programs.  At the present time, 250+ soldiers are on the waiting list to be admitted to the clinic.

NODUS’ ATO Ward 1: Artur Kireev. Smiling and positive emotions are part of the treatment. Artur is a huge fan of the Minions. One day, Yuliya found and bought a cake for ATO Ward 1 which made Artur smile.

NODUS’ ATO Ward 1: Artur Kireev. Smiling and positive emotions are part of the treatment. Artur is a huge fan of the Minions. One day, Yuliya found and bought a cake for ATO Ward 1 which made Artur smile.

You may ask: “Why do these 250+ soldiers want to get their treatment and rehabilitation at this clinic!”  I have an answer:  the services in this clinic are on a level of health care comparable to that of Western Europe and the US.  They use successfully targeted and proven effective health practices.  This center may become a leader/role model in Ukraine for neuro-rehabilitation services. NODUS is a center of excellence and innovation within its specialty.  Its multidisciplinary team has credentials and experience needed today in Ukraine to work in the field of neurorehabilitation. The excellent work and results of this clinic were noted by many social, charitable, and governmental organizations in Ukraine as well as international organizations such as the Red Cross, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE).  The clinic’s results and recognition are well-documented on its Facebook page   and its public web site.  On August 20, 2016, Ulana Suprun, Acting Ukrainian Minister of Health, and other governmental officials visited the clinic and soldiers/patients as recognition of excellent services and the charity project outcomes.  The clinic charity project was recognized by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on August 22, 2016.

Director of NODUS, Dr. Oleksandr Kulik shows Ukraine's Acting Minister of Health Dr. Ulana Suprun their facilities.

Director of NODUS, Dr. Oleksandr Kulyk shows Ukraine’s Acting Minister of Health Dr. Ulana Suprun their facilities.

Now, I have a question: do the brave Ukrainian soldiers deserve to have such care?  Ukraine is not a user-friendly country for people with TBI and SCI, which makes them part of a vulnerable group.  Some of the injured soldiers in the charity project were rejected by other Ukrainian hospitals and clinics with no hope of returning to a normal life.  This clinic gives them a real chance and the hope to get back on their feet!”

NODUS’ ATO Ward 2: Artur Galtzcov and Roman Kubyshkin need to sit in a wheel chair for at least 3 hours per day as part of their recovery procedure from their comas. Yuliya Grassby is a tennis player and serves on the Board of Directors of the Black Hills Tennis Association. She brought the soldiers tennis tournament t-shirts from the Association is awaiting their recovery to teach them how to play tennis.

NODUS’ ATO Ward 2: Artur Galtzcov and Roman Kubyshkin need to sit in a wheel chair for at least 3 hours per day as part of their recovery procedure from their comas. Yuliya Grassby is a tennis player and serves on the Board of Directors of the Black Hills Tennis Association. She brought the soldiers tennis tournament t-shirts from the Association is awaiting their recovery to teach them how to play tennis.

Below are just a couple of examples of success stories:

Elijah with NODUS staff.

Elijah with NODUS staff.

Illiya was injured in an accident in January of 2015 in the ATO [anti-terrorist operation] zone. With the severe effects of his closed craniocerebral injury, and serious internal bleeding in the brain, he was examined in the Main Military Medical Clinical Center of the Order of the Red Star’s “Main Military Clinical Hospital.”
The patient experienced a distinct syndrome of social, existential and professional disadaptation. He was completely reliant on outside care. On 02.20.2015, he was transferred  to a rehabilitation treatment program at NODUS.
The main purpose and direction of his treatment:
– Prevention and reduction of the maximum possible degree of disability;
– Maximum physical, mental, social, economic usefulness, which he will be able to have within the existing trauma;
– Improving the quality of life of the patient;
– Activation of the muscles;
– The elimination of cachexia and somatic comorbidities.

After completing two courses in the rehabilitation center, Illiya was discharged with a significant reduction of disability. He is now able to:
– Walk independently without crutches
– Take his own food
– Talk
– Is oriented in time and space
– Correctly takes command
– Exhibits a decrease in tetraparesis events and numerous contractures
– Has gradually corrected stereotyped complex movements in amplitude, speed, strength, rhythm.
– Has gained a significant recovery in communication (language has properly acquired semantic language, and of an emotional nature) compared to his previous monotonous, misunderstood and early treatment.
Source: http://www.nodus.ua/pasient/istoria_reabilitasii-19.html#overview

Peter S., 37, received gunshot wounds in the spine, the spinal cord, penetrating chest injuries, multiple fractures and bruises in March of 2015 during a combat mission in the ATO zone.

He was delivered to the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Clinical Hospital–Mechnikov, where he underwent several operations. He continued treatment in hospital for Ukrainian Internal Affairs.

On September 22, 2015 he arrived for treatment at NODUS in the charity program free rehabilitation for wounded soldiers in the ATO zone and volunteers, to undergo free rehabilitation treatment. At admission, he had complaints about the lack of movement in his lower extremities, pain in the lumbar spine, shooting pain and painful spasms in the muscles of the hips and legs, headaches, memory impairment. Moved solely in a wheelchair. After diagnosis, the patient was given an individually customized rehabilitation program.

Peter completed 2 courses of rehab treatment with distinct improvements. He almost almost does not lie in bed, walks independently, leaning on crutches. He is currently in his third course of rehabilitation treatment.
Source: http://www.nodus.com.ua/pasient/istoria_reabilitasii-42.html#overview

The clinic team strives selflessly to return defenders of Ukraine back to a normal life. However, the minimal Ukrainian government and foundation funding sources have been depleted. The clinic must rely almost exclusively on private donations, gifts of equipment, and thousands of volunteer medical and nursing hours to successfully help patients and run its programs. Despite their tremendous effort, they cannot even afford today to buy the necessary equipment since their purchasing resources have been exhausted.

Today, Ukraine continues to defend itself daily against Russian hostility.  Every day we hear about increasing numbers of wounded soldiers in the news.  The NODUS team’s social responsibility is to continue running its non-profit charity project. At the present time, the clinic is exploring all possible sources of assistance within Ukraine and outside of Ukrainian borders. With no funding sources, NODUS will have to downsize its charity project/space availabilities for soldier patients.  They need your help!  

NODUS stats of September 19th, 2016:

42-45 patients are being treated and undergoing rehabilitation courses.
10 of them are ATO participants + 1 civilian girl (volunteer) who suffered a mine blast trauma.
The breakdown of these 10 is as follows:
6 men – clinic-based treatment and rehab
4 men – out-patient format
8 men – serviecemen of the Military Forces of Ukraine, 1-special unit, 1- soldier-volunteer
6 men – drafted
Other – professional servicemen

In the framework of the charity project for wounded soldiers:
142  completed their treatment and rehabilitation.
263 men are on the “Waiting List” to be admitted to NODUS

1 month is the minimum neuro-rehabilitation course.
37 patients – had a 6 month course of treatment and rehab, 16 patients – spent 9 months, 8 patients – 12months, 14 patients had 2 treatment and rehab courses, 8 patients – 3 courses, 5 patients – 4 courses. 1 man was discharged pre-term of the rehab course completion for gross negligence of rehab rules and the clinic’s requirements.

YOUR DONATIONS CAN HELP NODUS:

All donations are meant to cover a specific task: to pay for an individual’s reahibilitation, a surgery on a wounded soldier or purchase equipment, disposable items, etc. All such expenditures are related to the implementation of NODUS’s non-profit charity project for wounded soldiers.

The following information comes from Inna Danchenko, who is both a NODUS volunteer and with Volunteers’ Hundred Dobrovolya.

There are TWO options to help the NODUS Charity Project: 

1. Finance the rehabilitation of a wounded soldier or any related medical expenses (as per Individual Rehabilitation program cost). 

Costs vary between $2,000–4,000 USD per month approximately.  

2. Finance the purchase of, or donate as a gift, a piece of  equipment that will allow NODUS to expand and upgrade the rehabilitation possibilities at NODUS in order to allow more gravely-inquired soldiers and volunteers to undergo treatment and the most efficient rehabilitation in Ukraine in the framework of this unique Charity project.

How financial help to a wounded soldier works:

Please contact Dr Kulyk or NODUS Administrator Ms. Oksana Dzyuma (who speaks English well) Tel +380 44 579 90 25 . She will answer questions & inquiries and provide bank details for a donation.

The Director of NODUS is Dr. Oleksander V. Kulyk, Neurosurgeon.
His contact information is as follows:
Oleksandr V. Kulyk, PhD, MD
Director of NODUS Neurological and Neurosurgical Rehabilitation Research Center
Heroyiv UPA 7A Street Brovary, Kyiv Region 07400 Ukraine
Office phone/fax: +38 (044) 579-9025
Cell phone: +38 (050) 395-0878
Email: A.Kulyk@nodus.ua

The CHARITY PROJECT of the NEUROLOGICAL and NEUROSURGICAL REHABILITATION RESEARCH CENTRE “NODUS” FOR WOUNDED UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS financial information page: http://www.nodus.ua/eng/main-info.php

If a Charity or other Fund or institution is willing to donate to help a soldier or a Charity Project in general (paying for a piece of equipment needed or purchasing disposable materials, etc) they can contact Inna Danchenko (in English, Italian, or French) cell: +38066 7444620 or by e-mail: Inna.N.Danchenko@gmail.com. As a volunteer of the Volonteers’ Hundred DOBROVOLYA, she acts as the NODUS Charity Project Coordinator.

Related References:
Inna Danchenko and Dr. Oleksandr Kulyk on Channel 5’s Information Morning show – segment entitled: “Rehabilitation of those wounded during the ATO (10/06/2016) in Ukrainian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e54pfh8N_U4 

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Sentsov and Kolchenko: Russia does not extradite its own

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov was denied the opportunity to serve his sentence at home – all because of a Russian passport

Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for "Novaya Gazeta"

Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

By Anton Naumlyuk, journalist (text and all photos)
10.21.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

The Russian Ministry of Justice explained its position regarding transferring Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov to Ukraine to serve his sentence at home. In short – the transfer will not take place. According to the agency’s official response to “the Ukrainian side’s” request, Sentsov has only one nationality – Russian, and because Ukraine does not provide for dual citizenship, the Russian Federation will not consider transferring its citizen to serve his sentence in another country.

Oleg Sentsov was convicted by the North Caucasus Military District Court to 20 years in prison on charges of creating a terrorist organization and committing two acts of terrorism. The latter are two not very successful arson attempts: at the office of the Party of Regions in Simferopol (in the case file, the office appears as belonging to the United Russia party, which, in actuality, could not have existed on the peninsula at that time- A.N.) and the office of the “Russian community of Crimea,” which was the headquarters of the “Self-Defense of Crimea” militant group. The terrorist organization in question, according to the court, was a cell of “Right Sector,” which Sentsov had allegedly created in Crimea, a nationalist Ukrainian group that is banned in Russia.

Oleksandr Kolchenko, an anti-fascist activist, was sentenced together with Sentsov, to 10 years of imprisonment; his only connection to Ukrainian nationalists is the fact that he was beaten by them several times, during memorials for journalist Anastasia Baburova and lawyer Stanislav Markelov who were killed by Russian nationalists in 2009. The human rights movement “Memorial” has recognized Kolchenko and Sentsov as political prisoners.

“What is your nationality?”

The option to serve sentence at home was viewed as one of the main possibilities for the return of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. One of the obvious conditions for the transfer of prisoners would be a Ukrainian citizenship, but while no doubts arose regarding the passports of Nadiya Savchenko, Mykola Karpyuk and other Ukrainians, everything is much more difficult in the case of the “Crimean terrorists.” The issue of Kolchenko’s and Sentsov’s citizenship arose even during the trial.

Oleg Sentsov. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for "Novaya Gazeta"

Oleg Sentsov. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

“What is your nationality?” – Judge Sergei Mikhailyuk asked Kolchenko at the start of the first day of the court proceedings. “Russian, Ukrainian,” the anarchist responded hesitantly. “Decide already,” the judge said with a smile, and then asked if Kolchenko can speak Russian (he does). Sentsov answered [the question about his nationality] confidently: “Ukrainian.” In the case files, both of the accused appeared as Russian citizens, and the Ukrainian Consul was not allowed to see them. At the same time, only Ukrainian passports [of both Sentsov and Kolchenko] were present in the case files.

After the verdict, Sentsov was sent to serve his sentence in Yakutia, and Kolchenko, in the Chelyabinsk region. In March 2016, it seemed that the citizenship question was resolved in the Ukrainians’ favor. The final report, published by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, bluntly states: “As a result of the High Commissioner’s actions prompted by Sentsov and Kolchenko’s complaints, any legal uncertainty with regard to their nationality was eliminated, and their Ukrainian citizenship recognized.” By that time, Kyiv had already addressed the Russian Ministry of Justice with a petition for transfer for Sentsov and Kolchenko to serve their sentences at home. At the time, it seemed that either that way, or through a pardon, the Ukrainian political prisoners would be in Ukraine before the end of the year. But apparently, the Ministry of Justice knows nothing about the reasoning of the Russian High Commissioner.

“Sentsov acquired Russian citizenship pursuant to paragraph 1, Article 4 of the Federal Constitutional Law of 21.03.2014 №6-FKZ “On the adoption of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the formation of the new entities of the Republic of Crimea and the Federal City of Sevastopol within the Russian Federation,” – said the agency.

“A person cannot be made a citizen of another country against their will. Kolchenko holds a Ukrainian passport. And Sentsov did not waive his Ukrainian citizenship.”

“The position of the Ministry of Justice is based on a federal constitutional law; the letter mentions the accession of Crimea and says that Sentsov has Russian citizenship because he did not waive it in writing. That is, according to the Ministry of Justice, all those who did not write such a waiver automatically received Russian citizenship. Except that a certain procedure had to be followed: writing the appropriate application, and obtaining a Russian passport. Sentsov did not write any such application, did not get a passport, and did not refuse his Ukrainian citizenship. De facto, he was made a Russian citizen, but de jure he did not become one, he did not undergo any procedures [to that effect],”- responded Sentov’s lawyer Dmitry Dinze.

Oleksandr Kolchenko. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

Oleksandr Kolchenko. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

The lawyer reminded everyone that Kolchenko’s defender, Svetlana Sidorkina, tried to sue the Migration Service regarding her client’s citizenship, but the Simferopol court rejected her claim, stating that there was no formal violation in the fact that Kolchenko was essentially given Russian citizenship by force. “I appealed to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Russia, the Office of the Prosecutor General, who replied that since [Kolchenko] did not complete the procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship, he remains a citizen of Ukraine. Her position is: a person cannot be made citizen of another country against their will. Kolchenko has a Ukrainian passport, he did not complete the procedures, thus, he is a citizen of Ukraine,” insists Dmitry Dinza.

There is another way

The refusal of the Russian Ministry of Justice to consider the option of transferring the Ukrainians to serve their sentences in their homeland certainly does not exclude their return, but it does close off one of the routes for such return; one that is not the easiest for Kyiv, in fact. Previously, all high-profile exchanges of Ukrainian political prisoners took place via their pardon and exchange, not by means of extradition for serving their sentence. Nadiya Savchenko went home a free woman, as did the GRU personnel Alexander Alexandrov and Yevgeni Yerofeyev, who were exchanged for her. And Yury Soloshenko and Gennady Afanasyev’s pardons were broadcast almost in real time.

“As we have already seen, Russia does not extradite anyone from the list [of political prisoners] under the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons to serve their sentences in their country of citizenship,” – said Ilya Novikov, the lawyer for Ukrainians Nadiya Savchenko, Mykola Karpyuk, and Valentin Vyhivsky. “This is nothing new. We should concentrate on the exchange and pardon mechanisms. There is a small upside to the fact that the issue of citizenship is being treated so crassly – it will make matters easier with the European Court of Human Rights. And overall, it will be easier to explain why Russia’s stance on this is wrong.”

Almost all lawyers say that in political cases, especially those involving Ukrainians, the defense does not view the Russian court as a body of fair judicial procedure. Dmitry Dinze, who represents Sentsov’s interests, is not about to challenge the position of the Ministry of Justice.

“To be honest, we are afraid to make the situation even worse,” the lawyer expressed his concern. “We will, most likely, appeal to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, so that his office would repeat their view on Sentsov’s Ukrainian citizenship. We would like to see the issue discussed at the initiative of the High Commissioner and the Prosecutor General, who have already expressed their position. And, of course, we expect the President of Ukraine to solve this situation at the highest level, using diplomatic means.”

Problems with the processes of exchange

It is true that after the return of Soloshenko and Afanasyev to Ukraine, the exchange processes seemed to have stopped. The incident with “Ukrainian saboteurs” in Armyansk failed to add any optimism to the matter of returning Ukrainian political prisoners home.

On the other hand, the [Russian] Bataysk Colony #15 currently holds two Ukrainian participants of high-profile trials: Oleksiy Chirniy, the main witness in the case of Sentsov, and Serhiy Lytvynov, whom the Investigative Committee of Russia originally accused of mass killings of civilians in the Luhansk region. Chirniy expressed a tentative hope that his exchange is being prepared.

Serhiy Lytvynov. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Nova Gazeta

Serhiy Lytvynov. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

Lytvynov’s lawyer, Victor Parshutkin, does not exclude that possibility in respect of his client, either. “Perhaps they will hand him over to Ukraine to serve further punishment, or…I’m wary of making predictions. The most important thing is, he is not forgotten – another hearing on redress of injury is scheduled for October 25th in Moscow’s Basmanny District Court, and yesterday, we received the decision on the verdict’s appeal. Now there is nothing to stop us making a complaint to the European Court,”- the lawyer noted.

The possibility of the exchange and return of the “Chechen prisoners” Mykola Karpyuk and Stanislav Klykh may be on the table after October 26, when the Supreme Court [of Russia] holds a hearing on the appeal against the verdict made by the Supreme Court of Chechnya, which condemned the Ukrainians for allegedly taking part in the first Chechen war on the side of Ichkeria. Until the appeal hearing, the verdict has not entered into force yet, so it is impossible to insist on an extradition of the convicted.

Stanislav Klykh. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

Stanislav Klykh. Photo: Anton Naumlyuk, especially for Novaya Gazeta

Although, Klykh is also currently on trial in Grozny for insulting the public prosecutor Salambek Yunusov. It is true that the Ukrainian displayed some unbalanced behavior during the court process – shouting, reciting poetry, speaking out of place. At the last hearing, Klykh, in response to the prosecutor’s statement, refused the services of his lawyer, insisting that his interests in court be represented by the singer Stas Mikhailov. The defense suggests that this behavior may be the result of tortures, about which Klykh spoke in the Grozny courtroom, showing burn marks from electricity on his legs. The lawyer Marina Dubrovina requested a psychiatric examination of the defendant, to which the judge stated that he has no reason to believe Klykh is mentally ill.

Source: novayagazeta.ru

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Slovyansk’s pedestrian crossings now have motivational slogans (photos)

By bzh.life, a magazine publication of urban life in the big city. Photos by Larissa Kovalenko, Alexei Ovchinnikov, Marina Danilova
10.11.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Participants of the platform “Zmіsto” created motivational pedestrian crossings in Slovyansk [Donetsk oblast], Ukraine.

"Life is beautiful when it’s colorful"

“Life is beautiful when it’s colorful”

At the initiative of the platform Zmisto and with support of the municipal enterprise “water table” Slovyansk increased the number of pedestrian crossings in the city, according to 6262.com.ua [the City of Slovyansk’s website].

"Live – Breathe – Stride – Wilfully"

“Live – Breathe – Stride – Wilfully”

The pedestrian crossings are also decorated with motivating inscriptions: “You are your own country,” “Everything will be all right,” “Life is beautiful when it’s colorful” and others.

"You are your own country"

“You are your own country”

The plan is to paint a total of five such crosswalks in Slovyansk, at intersections in different parts of the city. All of the materials necessary to implement this initiative have been procured with grants from the US Agency for International Development – USAID.

Source: bzh.life

 


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Alexander Kolchenko meets with members of Chelyabinsk region OIC #FreeKolchenko

By Tatiana Shchur, text. Photos by Olga Frolova and Russian Federal Penitentiary Service staff.
10.05.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

Nikolay Shchur meeting with Sasha (Alexander) Kolchenko in Kopeysk prison in Chelyabinsk region.

Yesterday, October 5th, Russian human rights activists Nikolay Shchur and Olga Frolova, members of the Chelyabinsk region Public Supervisory Commission (OIC) met with Ukrainian political dissident Sasha Kolchenko who is serving a sentence in a prison colony in Kopeysk, Chelyabinsk area.

N. Shchur, O. Frolova, and IR-6. Photo: Tatiana Shchur

N. Shchur, O. Frolova, and IR-6.

They met with him in the classroom at a vocational school, where he has been mastering the profession of carpenter. Sasha said that letters are getting through to him now, but he is not receiving his subscriptions regularly. And – most importantly – he has still not resolved the question of a meeting with the Consul. His letter requesting a meeting with the Consul of the [penal] colony, it seems, has not worked out. Alexander turned to the OIC for assistance in the transfer of this letter (already done). In its audit report, the OIC Commission pointed out that it “draws attention to the management HUFSIN violations of citizen rights institutions Ukraine Kolchenko AA a meeting with the consul of his country! “draws attention to the Federal Penitentiary Service for a violation by the institution’s management and leadership of the rights of Ukrainian citizen Kolchenko to a meeting with the consul of his country!”

N. Shchur and A. Kolchenko in discussion during meeting. Photo: Tatiana Shchur.

N. Shchur and A. Kolchenko in discussion during meeting.

Source: Tatiana Shchur FB post


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“Stop exporting our forests!” – Chernivtsi artist Taras Polataiko protests on train station platform (VIDEO)

By CHV.TV Staff, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
09.09.2016
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

International artist Taras Polataiko (R) holding protest signs in an intense chat with the Head of the Police on the platform of Chernivtsi train station, Chernivtsi Ukraine on September 8, 2016. Photo:

International artist Taras Polataiko (R) holding protest signs in an intense chat with National Police patrol Paranyuk who explains that only accredited journalists are allowed on the platform of Chernivtsi train station, Chernivtsi, Ukraine on September 9, 2016. Photo: Oleg Tudan

Today, during the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first train from Lviv to Ivano-Frankivsk, local artist Taras Polataiko (Chernivtsi–Kolomyya) stood in a one-man picket protest against deforestation.

Taras Polataiko on Chernivtsi train station platform holding a "Don't kill the Carpathians" sign. Photo:

Taras Polataiko on Chernivtsi train station platform holding a “Don’t kill the Carpathians” sign.

According to the artist, every day 100 train cars pass through the [Chernivtsi] local station, carrying [illegally] logged wood from the Carpathian Mountains. Deforestation is resulting in loss of water in the mountains and an increase in landslides.

Taras Polataiko at Chernivtsi train platform holding up signs: "Stop killing the Carpathians" and "Stop exporting the forest!!" Photo:

Taras Polataiko at Chernivtsi train platform holding up signs that say: “Stop killing the Carpathians” and “Stop exporting the forest!!”

However, local law enforcement agencies did not like this protest. The activist says, “There were 10 policemen, who did not allow me to stand here because I was ‘holding some kind of rally.’ I’m not holding a rally, I’m just a regular person, a citizen of Ukraine, who is just standing here.” [Ed: Polataiko also writes on his Facebook page that the police told him he “had a suspicious backpack” and suggested to “go talk outside”].

However, as was noted by Ivan Hrunyk, the Acting Head of the regional branch of the “Lviv Railway” public joint-stock company Ukrainska Zaliznytsia [PJSC “Ukrzaliznytsia”], the railroad is not responsible for the parties engaged in logging: “We only provide transportation. The responsibility rests with the Customs authorities and the Forestry Service, who are actually carrying out the logging.”

To that, protestor Taras Polataiko said: then apparently, no one is responsible for the destruction of the forests, and so the logging of the Carpathians continues. “It’s the prosecutors’ job to find the perpetrators and prosecute them for this. But I care about the problem! I can clearly see [the timber], leaving on these trains. The railway company “Ukrzaliznytsia” is exporting the timber! I’m doing what’s logical – protesting against the fact that “Ukrzaliznytsya” is exporting the Carpathians,” said Polataiko.

International artist Taras Polataiko with Carpathian Mountain deforestation protest signs flanked by police on the Chernivtsi train station platform during the train's 150th Anniversary celebrations, September 8, 2016. Photo:

International artist Taras Polataiko with Carpathian Mountain deforestation protest signs under police presence on the Chernivtsi train station platform during the train’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, September 9, 2016.

The activist added that he was surprised by the actions of the railway station personnel, who, despite the fact that he showed his accreditation as a journalist, did not allow him to reach his colleagues and twisted his arms. [Ed: Polataiko also writes on his Facebook page that they unexpectedly roughed him up and beat him.]

International artist Taras Polataiko flanked by police holding Carpathian Mountain deforestation protest signs while the Head of the Lviv Railway speaks during their 150th Anniversary celebrations on the train station platform September 8, 2016. Photo:

International artist Taras Polataiko flanked by police holding Carpathian Mountain deforestation protest signs while Ivan Hrunyk, the Acting Head of the Lviv Railway (regional branch) speaks during their 150th Anniversary celebrations on the train station platform September 9, 2016. Photo:

Video (in Ukrainian) where Taras Polataiko talks about the deforestation and drying of the Carpathian mountains and the rationale of his protest (as written in above article).

Source: CHV.TV

Further Reference:
Video of illegal clear-cutting in historical Bukovina mountains done within a 2 month period, including the after-effects of flooding in the region. By “Kozak Victory,” posted by Mykola Petichenko (video):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gmjL5pl2eM

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This translation work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The rights pertaining to the original work remain unaffected.

Posted in English, Pictures, Voices of Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment