Are Americans aware of the painful truth, or is it a new stage in the global hybrid war?

information_resistance_logo_engInformation Resistance analytics: Professor I.P. Rushchenko, PhD Sociology especially for “Information Resistance” (Ukraine)
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine


In the USA, alarm bells have rung. It seems that the nation is starting to become aware of a very nasty and unexpected fact: the great nation of America is under attack. The angry dwarf – Lord of the eastern Empire – has become so emboldened that he has decided to launch a despicable attack on the holy of holies – democratic values. Contemporary history increasingly resembles the plot of the blockbuster movie “Star Wars.” The eternal saga of confrontation between the light and dark sides of the world order. Maybe this time, the Republic will wake up from its sweet slumber at the summit of its economic might and believe what experts have been saying for months.

An essential element of a hybrid war is the mystery surrounding the start of the war or major strategic operation (in the language of prior military campaigns). Such dates as September 1, 1939, June 22, 1941, December 7, 1941 (the attack on the US Navy naval base in Pearl Harbour) and June 6, 1944 (the beginning of Operation “Overlord”) and similar memorable dates speak for themselves and require no special comment. The enemy carefully conceals and disguises its intentions until the last moment, i.e. “D” Day. But, after the first salvos or bomb strikes, everything falls into place; and subsequently historians do not argue over the actual start date of the operation. In the hybrid wars or at least in the invasions, whose recipes are concocted in Putin’s kitchen, everything ends up working differently. The aggression begins with the covert use of concealed means and anonymous entities – third-parties in whose name subversive actions can be carried out. Only later comes the realization that the nation is under attack and a war is in fact in progress. The aggressor naturally benefits from a substantial temporary advantage. That is how it happened in the case of the Russo-Ukrainian war, where the date of February 20, 2014, is not at all definite and emerged most likely on the “prompting” of the aggressor. There are, moreover, other versions, which place “D” day half a year earlier, or even 10 years back.

We are now witnessing something similar, with the Empire’s attack on Western civilization (Western Europe and the United States). The question naturally arises: has “D” day already taken place or is it yet to come? Who has the world’s most developed countries in his sights? The landmark report by the American secret services (FBI, CIA, NSA of January 6) “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in the Recent US Elections,” with which Donald Trump recently became acquainted, contains an important conclusion: “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represented the most recent expression of Moscow’s long-standing desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal and democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.” In terms of this report, is it war or just “the overture to the opera?” Is “the significant increase” only a quantitative indicator? Or have the quantities, in keeping with the law of dialectics, been transformed into a new qualitative state? Are the directness, activity and scale indicators of aggression or just signs of ordinary unfriendliness? Where is the red line separating the state of war from the state of peace in our era?

From the perspective of the wars in previous generations, this unprecedented revival of intelligence and subversive activity could be classed as an event preceding “D” Day. But in the context of a hybrid war, the manifestations of an unconventional invasion can be interpreted differently: that the “red line” has already been crossed, and Western civilization is being subjected to strikes using a broad range of offensive resources. The author of the aggression prefers for the moment to stay in the shadows. The experience of the Russian-Ukrainian war shows that this position is most convenient for the aggressor. And there is no objective evidence prompting him to reveal himself. That it is the main joy of a hybrid war in Putin’s conception: it becomes a real quest to identify targeted countries! The longer a nation ponders and politicians, as they say, “scratch their heads,” the more damage can be inflicted on the sly, putting the opponent in the absurd position of fighting against an invisible enemy.

What is the purpose of any war? Obviously, it’s the desire of one nation state to bend another entity it interacts with on the international stage to its own will. If a hybrid-war invasion facilitates the desired result in a fateful referendum or in the election of the head of a distant state, it means only one thing: the purpose of the silent war has been achieved. Zhirinovsky can drink champagne in front of the TV cameras! But the real heroes of the blockbuster will drink expensive cognac from cut crystal glasses behind the solid wood doors of offices at addresses known to all. Armament should be used in a hybrid war only as a last resort, for a short time and preferably even under the flag of irregular combat formations. Otherwise the opposite effect is achieved: the nation, God forbid, rallies and its resolve hardens (as in Ukraine), and any hope of controlling the situation by pulling multiple strings fades.

But every smart operator stumbles, and sooner or later people become aware of the attack. The process of “realisation” and reaction to invasion looks, in our opinion, as follows:

1) Latency phase.

Driven by malevolence, the leader of an undemocratic country (in principle, such an occurrence is an impossibility in a democracy) secretly mobilises a state’s apparatus for aggression against a sovereign country or block of countries. “Malevolence” according to the classical school of criminal law was understood to come from the perverted mind of the criminal. This concept can be fully applied to Putin and his companions both in Russia and abroad. (We earlier substantiated the hypothesis that a global hybrid world war has actually started, in which the Kremlin is gathering a coalition of representatives of non-Western civilizations to destroy the existing world order). In the initial stage, the aggressor can simultaneously use a number of critical resources. In the situation of Ukraine – the economic and gas wars, subversive propaganda, the formation of a “fifth column,” political and military blackmail, political corruption, the spread of separatist ideas, etc.. Against Western civilization, we observe a series of terrorist attacks, the deployment of advocacy networks, political corruption, special operations in the civil sector (creating refugee flows, incidents with migrants). But the word “war” is still taboo. Everyone is afraid to say it, just as in the past primitive peoples refused to pronounce the name of taboo things. Nobody wants to believe that in supposed conditions of peace and the application of international legal standards, war in a hybrid format can be treacherously and secretly unleashed with impunity. And the few experts warning of systematic aggression are, as a rule, not listened to yet. The attacking party skilfully takes advantage of these circumstances. Recognition of the war – like an electric shock – immediately sobers up a nation and forces it to resist. On the other hand, the continued illusion of peace leaves the opponent weakened and disunited, exactly what is needed for conducting covert operations.

Putin as Darth Maul

Putin as Darth Maul

2) Realisation phase.

Judging by the latest newswire reports, the process of acknowledging an uncomfortable and painful truth has actually started in the United States: other nations are no longer afraid of it and a hidden war has been taken to their opponent’s territory, i.e. American society has been transformed into a target. This is what we Ukrainians went through, when the “little green men” appeared in Crimea, and at the memorable meeting of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council which debated the dilemma of “to be or not to be.” America, it would appear, seems to be confronted with a similar problem today. This truth shocks Americans and hurts their pride. Oceans are no longer a barrier to an incursion into sovereign territory. The Federal security services appear to have got a handle on the cyber attacks and Russian propaganda. On this question (not easy for Trump’s image), the various sides are already on the way to a consensus. But still unacknowledged are the terrorist attacks which took place on United States territory on the eve of the presidential elections, and to which we previously tried to draw attention as being far from random events. Of course, it is more difficult to constitute a basis of evidence for terrorism and even more difficult to interpret facts as elements of a system, rather than the action of individual fanatics (especially since most of them die when committing a terrorist attack).

But what about a “fifth column,” agents of influence, insiders, and recruited minions sent out on location? In Europe, there is more clarity. Journalists have already drawn up lists of parties and politicians who have openly adopted a pro-Putin stance and clearly do not shun the Kremlin’s financial assistance. But what is the situation in the USA in this regard? Conducting subversive activity in the American society is much more complex and more money is needed. But it will be recalled that even in the grim years of the Cold War, the KGB had great success in recruiting agents and obtaining top-secret information. We can assume that the Americans have yet to realize the full extent of the covert attacks that have been taking place against the country in recent years. At the January 11 press conference, Trump publicly denied he had any links with Russia, as was suspected by his opponents. The process has started, but will it lead to the next phase?

3) Acknowledgement of the facts.

This stage means there is a consensus among the main political forces and civil society on the question of what is happening. Everybody accepts the diagnosis except the political fringes and representatives of the “fifth column.” The source of the danger and the scale and nature of hybrid threats become clear. The word “war,” sadly, has to be written without quotes. In Ukraine, the authorities have disguised it under the “ATO” heading. However, all Ukrainian politicians express indescribable delight, when foreign institutions refer in their writings to the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. Europeans, primarily eastern European countries, France and Germany, where elections beckon in 2017, have already been placed in a state of “readiness. “Stand-by” status evidences the collapse of the illusion that “it will all turn out fine.” Governments are urgently strengthening national cybersecurity; centres to counter Russian propaganda are springing up; police forces are beginning to act more decisively on the streets, especially in relation to migrants and dropouts (manipulated to create chaos). NATO is taking steps to deploy additional military forces and resources on the bloc’s eastern borders. Despite initial resistance from D. Trump, events in the United States are obviously developing in this direction. The new president will have to accept the fact that his country is in the crosshairs. This may happen over the next several weeks. The consequence will be an internal mobilisation and the nation coming together, something the Americans (to their credit) are able to do. Moreover, it is very favourable for Trump personally to be the leader of the nation at the time of a threat from the world’s “dark forces.” This will help, firstly, to rally the nation around him; secondly, significantly raise his personal rating, which looks absurdly low after the victory. Currently, Trump’s approval rating by Americans is 37%. At the end of November, 2016, the figure was 44%. Most of the country’s population (51%) is dissatisfied with the president-elect. By comparison, in 2008, at the equivalent time, Obama had 68% of popular support!

4) “The path of war.”

What will be the military response of the US and Western Europe? One can only guess. Inaction or a defensive posture mean undoubted defeat. This was a lesson learned by Ukraine. Only active resistance and a build-up of one’s own strength can stop an aggressor who does not understand the meaning of the words “compromise,” “law,” “obligations,” “humanism” and similar “liberal buzz words.” Here, Putin has a significant advantage. His hands are free, the Empire is mobilised for war, and his personal orders are enough for any scurrilous tricks. Putin does not feel the slightest sympathy for the victims of aggression, even if they are civilians or bystanders. The story of the destruction of Aleppo – a city that was on the map of the Middle East back in the heyday of ancient Egypt – should be a warning to Western civilization. This episode is obviously easier for Europeans to understand than the fate, for example, of distant Groznyy or the Ukrainian town of Debaltseve. The aggressor will make no allowance for humane considerations or humanitarian law in this war of civilizations. Caught up in discussions and electoral processes, the West appears to be drowning in inertia. But all is not lost. Moreover, there is a historical precedent, when the great Republicans and Conservatives brought down a far more horrible and cruel evil empire. Western civilization can strike a devastating blow to the Empire in the same hybrid format. But to do so, it needs to come together and have a common will to win and to preserve world order.

In conclusion, we return to the narrative of “Star Wars,” understandable to Americans and numerous admirers of the space saga. Like the protagonists of the famous film, Putin embodies the” forces of darkness,” as has been apparent throughout his criminal career. Each time his latest crimes and adventures meet with success, “the dark side of the force” grows. At first, it was in the doorways of Leningrad, then in the ranks of the KGB, then in the service of Sobchak, and finally, in the Kremlin, where he attained his full might, as a villain on a planetary scale. Is it not time, to use the colloquial expression sometimes used by the well-known mayor of a large Ukrainian city, to “multiply the emperor by zero”? Objectively, D. Trump potentially has a historical global mission to free the world from the evil empire. Will he be able to recognize this and execute what has been preordained, as Ronald Reagan did in his day? Or will he go down in history as a failed president, who did not meet the challenge of the time and turned the United States into a regional power?

Source: Information Resistance (


Creative Commons License
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 Analytics, English News, War in Donbas | 1 Comment

Emergency Reform Package: The main challenges in 2017

By Taras Shevchenko, Co-Chair of the Emergency Reform Package
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

We need to work hard so that the government does not roll the reforms back

It’s been three years since the Revolution of Dignity. Unfortunately, over this period of time the public’s “reformist” expectations have plummeted: from optimism all the way to almost total disappointment. This curve continues its downward movement, since the changes that do happen– with great difficulty, under the constant pressure of civil society – still fail to meet peoples’ expectations. The standard of living of the average Ukrainian has deteriorated, and their faith in real change has diminished.

But we can’t lose heart. Even against a background of betrayals and disappointments, and despite the fierce resistance of the system, civil society has achieved important changes in 2016. Under pressure from activists and the international community, the electronic system for income declarations managed to get underway. This is definitely an unprecedented case for Ukrainian politicians, who were virtually “laid bare” in front of the citizens, for the first time ever. But the most interesting part of this story were not the declarations filed by MPs, whose fortunes surprised no-one, but the legalization and exposure of the property owned by civil servants and judges. Without doubt, there were positive outcomes from the decommunization processes, the formation of integrated communities and the shift towards decentralization, the launch of first tenders for civil service jobs, and the successes of the ProZorro [e-procurement system]. Finally, an unequivocal positive came in the form of the start of judicial reform in late 2016, which, hopefully, will return to Ukrainians not just fair trials, but, importantly, confidence in the judicial system.

The laws adopted in 2016 allow for some predictions about the areas most susceptible to reforms this year. However, as seen from our national reformist practice, civil society will have to work hard to make sure that the government does not roll the reforms back during the implementation stage.

“2017 will be a turning point for Ukraine on its reform path.”

In this regard, the most attention should be paid to the judicial reform. The system, formed and solidified over the years, is neither ready nor willing to change. But the first steps taken in this direction inspire some hope for a positive result. As early as April 1st [2017], the President is to approve the completely new membership of the Supreme Court, the most important judicial body of the country, where judges are selected through open contests. Rebooting the highest level of the judicial system is a real chance for renewal and change. However, low public attention to this process threatens to squander this chance.

Ukrainians should not allow a pseudo-renewal of the Supreme Court, in which judges are simply reshuffled based on their loyalty to the President. Elections to the Supreme Court should be the top reform in the first quarter of 2017, and be held under close scrutiny of the entire country. Here we must understand one simple thing: if the Supreme Court becomes categorically fair, there would be no sense for corruption to spread on lower levels. The next step would be a competition to appoint judges of the first jurisdiction. This competition has not been held even once in the past three years, resulting in a massive shortage of personnel and a paralysis of courts throughout the country. Today, Ukraine lacks almost a third of the judges it needs, and this figure will continue growing, if new competitions are not announced.

In continuing the judiciary topic, in 2017 the public should unite around the issue of creating anti-corruption courts – the final link in the chain of the fight against corruption. This is an important challenge on the anti-corruption front, but unfortunately, not the only one. The second stage of electronic declarations will begin soon, under which nearly a million officials will have to report on their income and wealth. Also, work must finally begin at the National Agency for the detection, investigation and management of assets derived from corruption and other crimes.

In 2016, reformers unfortunately failed to put enough pressure on the parliament in their efforts to increase the efficiency of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU). Despite the demands of Western partners and the public, MPs did not even put on the agenda the bill that would grant NABU the right to wiretap autonomously, based on a court ruling, without involving the SBU in the process. The attempts to discredit independent anti-corruption institutions also continue, including through the blocking of NABU cases in the courts.

Important changes will be occurring in the media field. 2017 will finally become the year for public broadcasting in Ukraine. The National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine starts its work in January. A very important step in the first half of the year will be the competitive selection of its chief and the heads of regional branches. It is at the regional level that the most changes should take place, because that’s the level where public broadcasting is a chance to provide balanced and impartial coverage of local events, as opposed to the former RSBCs [Regional State Broadcasting Companies] who have been the mouthpiece of the local government for years.

Print media will also be undergoing changes. Public media outlets are being reformed into private ones. Journalists have the chance to become owners of the newspapers at which they work. However, there is a risk that the state support system will fail here, and that in 2018 the country will witness massive bankruptcies of those newspapers who fail to survive in a competitive environment.

Law enforcement is another important area for reformers in 2017. During the year, the State Bureau of Investigation should be established, to which the Prosecutor General is to grant the authority to conduct investigations. Unfortunately, the competition for the position of its head gives rise to doubts whether this body will be truly independent. Meanwhile, there are few positive expectations regarding changes in the prosecutor’s office.

© AFP 2016 Sergei Supinsky

© AFP 2016 Sergei Supinsky

The shift towards decentralization will continue. Combining local communities should provide for better solutions to local problems and leave more money in local budgets. The reform of public administration means many new competitions in 2017, which must be held under close public scrutiny.

An equally important challenge in 2017 will be the re-election of the CEC [Central Election Commission]. The authority of the vast majority of the Commission members ended back in 2014, and a criminal case against the head of the CEC, Michael Okhendovsky, completely undermined the credibility of this body. At the same time, another very important systemic change is necessary – the new law on open-list parliamentary elections has very little chance of being passed this year.

2017 will be a turning point for Ukraine on its reform path. Further delays in the implementation of reforms could finally bury the tectonic changes which the government managed to put in place, under tremendous pressure from the expert community and civil society. The third sector can and should influence the agenda, and demand these changes from the authorities.

Sign on barriers during Euromaidan protests 2014: "We are changing the country. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Sign on barriers during Euromaidan protests 2014: “We are changing the country. Sorry for the inconvenience.”


Creative Commons License

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, Eyewitness stories | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nadiya Savchenko on Shuster Live: I will become an independent candidate and lead the People’s Movement of Ukraine (English transcript)

Nadiya Savchenko, Hero of Ukraine, People’s deputy of the “Batkivshchyna/Fatherland” party, videotaped on Shuster Live by journalist and TV host Savik Shuster on independent
Transcript and translation by Voices of Ukraine

On November 25, 2016, Nadiya Savchenko appeared on Shuster Live, to talk about her first 6 months in the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament of Ukraine] and make an announcement that she will become an independent politician and lead a movement.

Watch the video (in Ukrainian), or read the transcript below.


Nadiya Savchenko: “Can I speak? When I first came to this studio, I was fresh out of prison. I wasn’t afraid. Parachuting the first time isn’t scary, since you don’t know what it’s like. Half a year has gone since then.

“The first thing I was frightened of, in this my political journey, was the people’s great hope for me. It was too great for any living person to live up to. People were looking at me as if tomorrow I would make the lame walk and the blind see. Only Jesus Christ can do that, I couldn’t. I had to walk my path alone. I had to make my own mistakes. I had to learn through my own bumps and falls. I did do this. Very quickly, stones started flying at me, just as I had anticipated. I wasn’t afraid of this. It was maybe two months, and rocks flew at me, followed by, um, how to say it… [“shit” – a male voice from the audience]… Yes, ok, let’s call it that – from the government. And I began to understand what this system is like. Everything that I said – I would be told that I was making mistakes, that it was politically wrong, that I would lose my electorate. They tried to fill my head with some politico-technological ideas – what I should do, what I shouldn’t do, how I should conduct myself to come to power. 

The first two months, everyone wanted to buy me, every party. They were ready to take me because they wanted me to never think, to open my mouth for the sake of speaking the slogans they wrote, and thought that I would bring them to power. You know, I saw the system from the inside, and for half a year I still don’t understand. For half a year now, I’ve been speaking all my words, carrying out all my actions while taking all these punches [against me]. I am certain of my every word and action, certain that they are right. I will never denounce them. And I will continue to speak that which is just, fair and true. And I will defend my position to the end. [Clapping from studio audience].

When I started working with people more, I understood that it’s impossible to do anything within this system. Each time some new reform [is proposed], I wonder whether to press the green or the red voting button, because even if the reform is right, I can already see how these authorities will be able to corrupt it and benefit from it, and how it will become a new crisis for Ukraine again. When I speak with people, I tell them, “Give me two people from your community whom you trust.” And in the end, the people are not ready to do this. They can fight each other endlessly, but they have not learned to trust each other. Ukrainians cannot trust each other. Because we got used to not trusting the government, we got used to not trusting anyone.

What are the political technologists doing, and what did I see on the inside? I have observed many of the parties, not only the one I found myself in [the ‘Fatherland’ party]. I could not understand why being in the government tears people so far away from [normal] life. Maybe because of the [tax] declarations, maybe because they can make it through each month without borrowing money towards the end of it, maybe that separates them from life. But they look at people differently. When it comes to voting, or discussing any law, these lawmakers should be thinking about the state, how the state as a whole should be developing. Instead, it goes something like this: [in a theatrical, declarative voice] “…And from this law, we will yield political bonuses, therefore we are voting for it!” Furthermore, why couldn’t they kill the Savchenko Law? [A law that counts pretrial detention as a part of the detention sentence.] It’s not because I wasn’t in the Rada [parliament] but because they don’t have any trust or agreement amongst themselves. They essentially brought out two laws, and one group didn’t vote for one law because it wasn’t ‘theirs,’ while the others didn’t vote for the other one because it was the ‘others.” Everyone wanted to earn PR points. Even there they couldn’t find agreement.

Video screenshot, Shuster Live

Video screenshot, Shuster Live

If you watch and listen to [Mikheil] Saakashvili, to Gregory Tupa – every time, they say that we need to change the political elite. You know, I am seeing the same thing. I came [to politics] two years later, I hadn’t managed to whore myself out yet. I am very much afraid of whoring myself out or becoming bitter. I have observed many different syndromes in people who came to politics young. Someone came and sold out right away. Someone came and said, ‘I’ll do at least a little bit, I can see that everything is bad, but I want to change something, I can change something, even a tiny bit.’ Someone came and could not stand it: couldn’t lose their conscience yet, but didn’t have the strength to continue, so they lay down their mandate and left politics. Lots of different things were expected from me. Everyone was expecting something, and everyone tried to use it in their own way.

But I understood that it’s not the political elites that need to change. Because as Maria said quite correctly, in a recent political talk show, she said, “All you new people, myself included, turned out to be only a screen, behind which the old powers came back to the government. It’s not the faces of the people in power that need to change, it’s the system itself. People came out on Maidan with the express understanding that they didn’t need a different government, they needed a different system. We deeply and subconsciously knew this and felt this.

The system was created in a way that everyone who falls into it cannot act any different. Right now, they are telling people to take positions of power. But not everyone needs to get into politics; really, it’s not for everyone. Our politics need thinkers who can think twenty steps ahead – like chess players, who can create models, write proper laws, who will sit in place and not run about the parliament chamber shouting, fighting, and trying to score PR points. But, even people who take up local positions of power will quickly see how it goes. Let’s say you became an honest prosecutor on an oblast level. You will very quickly see that you can’t get anywhere with the court judge because he is not honest, can’t get anywhere with the cop because he is not honest. It is not possible to work within this system. Not on any level of it.

I became convinced of this again and again, as I drove across Ukraine, listened to what people were talking about, saw what was happening in the courtrooms, [what was going on] with workers in factories. It’s not just our politicians who are whores; we have a whored-out system. It has rotted and outlived itself. We need to come to [the place of] truly changing the system. Once at a press conference I said something that at the time was neither properly heard nor understood, but some people did hear me and started to think like me. They began to understand that before we destroy one thing, before we decapitate our current system, we need to have the next thing prepared. When we decapitate our system, the same people will take advantage of it as they have from the last four Maidans, and the same people will come again. Until we have an alternative model of Ukraine ready, in detail, with all risk calculations, prepared to withstand any stress, a model that we could establish and defend after taking down the old system – until then we will not be able to have change in Ukraine – a change that won’t result in us being tricked. Right now, Maidans are taking place. We all understand that they don’t lead in the right direction. Even something worse might happen now. In the past, Maidans would boil over into bloodshed; right now, people have already been flooded by blood. They won’t explode now, not even if this government starts firing at the people. They won’t explode, but they also won’t stop now. People know now where the politicians live and whose blood they will drink, and this will end badly for all of these politicians. Very badly. [Clapping from the audience].

The model that I’m proposing and want to bring to all Ukrainian people – to build it, like I had said, you need to drive the rams into the pen. They are rams, cowardly rams. They may not be stupid, they are sly and crooked, but they are cowardly rams. How can you drive them into the pen? You can compress like a spring, not aggravating the situation until [the model] is written out and until you all hear each other. Those who want to carry this message across will be dropped from the air and kicked off of all [tv and radio] channels, to make sure that you can’t hear each other. But you’ll all be able to hear each other – through a friend, a friend of a friend, even I can drive around to you all. We will be able to hear and to understand whether we are we ready for such a changeover.

Next, you should choose people whom you trust, from each community, and tell me: “Nadia, here, we trust these people, work with them.” These people should be in power for a certain period of time. They have to lay down the law with which you will all be familiar. When these people come to power, you ought to stand on Maidan for the first 2-3 months of their rule, not at the end. You must make them pass all the laws of this program, which would be well thought-out and would develop Ukraine. After this, this interim-fitted governing body that will accept these laws, should understand that the laws they pass will be the laws they will live by. The would say that no one person who has been once in the government within the past 25 years, including myself, has the right to stay in it longer. And people in this interim government also have no right to govern again.

Video screen shot, Shuster Live

Video screen shot, Shuster Live

The Constitution should be written in a way to enable it to defend itself, without a way for the President to break it using his Presidential majority. Like when it was being broken with judicial reforms, when Shukhevych and I were against it and couldn’t stop it. In addition to the Constitution, there should be core laws written out, blocks of laws that cannot be destroyed. Because what I saw in the Verkhovna Rada post-Maidan, was 700 laws in six months, stuffed into this legislative body, already formed and bursting at the seams. The laws were being shoved in haphazardly: put one in, it doesn’t work, yank it out, put it another, still doesn’t work. Many laws have not been thoroughly read and run contrary to each other. All these laws are what Ukraine lives by.

You come and say, ‘Why all this bureaucracy? Why do I have to pay a bribe?’ Because let’s say you come to power, you sit there, and you have two laws, and you can ignore one of them or the other, whichever is best for you. The system lets us prostitute ourselves so, and we start closing our eyes whenever it is easier for us. This ruin is on such a scale that achieving stability after the chaos is very difficult.

So if people don’t want to think for themselves, if they haven’t learned already, if they want things to be good but don’t want to do anything toward that end – unfortunately, most people in Ukraine are like this – then admit this is the case, and say, “Give us a dictator who will make everything good, we’re ready to live like that.” Unfortunately, most of the pensioner population is ready to say this. Most of the younger generation will say – no, we are ready to change something ourselves. But we have to lead and to unite Ukraine.

Look at what is happening right now: 360 parties are being formed. Soon, you’ll be able to take one deputy from every party and fill the Verkhovna Rada. All these parties are being formed to divide people who have the same ideas, so that they don’t hear one another. And if we want to finally do everything right, we have to pause once in a while. Much has been said about the fact that we should have political and judicial literacy. Perhaps the older generation will not learn this, because they were taught by the old system. Ideally, the younger generation will come to it and know it. But right now, you should learn from your own experience, and realize when you are being tricked. And you ought to understand how a law should come to be and how it should work for the good of the people. You have to take that for which Maidan stood, and understand it, point by point.

A lot of things were predicted for me, right? That I will stay in the Fatherland [party], even lead the Fatherland party. That I’ll leave politics because I won’t be able to stand it. That I’ll form my own political project. You know, I’m tired of all of this. I’m left with what I’ve always had. I remain myself – uncontrollable, unpredictable, and a third word that doesn’t translate. After sitting and thinking in the Verkhovna Rada for half a year, I found one way forward. We don’t need to create something new. We should remember something old that has been forgotten.

Not long ago, I listened to Chornovil’s speech in Crimea, where he was saying that Crimea should have been given national autonomy, not just territorial autonomy. I listened to a lot of his speeches, and I thought to myself, wondering what would have happened to today’s Ukraine if Chornovil had become the president, in his time, instead of Kravchuk. We would have a very different Ukraine. In his time, he often said things that people didn’t understand, things that were ahead of his time. Similarly, I am saying things that are ahead of this time. They may fail to find understanding right now. But Chornovil became the fire that gave Ukraine independence. May I also become a fire that will burn itself out, but give Ukraine a future. I am ready for this. [Clapping in the studio audience].

As soon as I came out of prison, my sister showed me a video where there were guys who were saying, “Nadiya, you just whistle and we’ll come.” For half a year, I did not whistle, because, being an officer and a commander, I know what it is like to lead people or send them into battle to their death. It is a tremendous responsibility. So as not to screw things up, or to only screw things up by myself, I will only lead when I’m ready to lead. But once again, I propose to do this by a different method than you might imagine.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

I choose to carry on the movement together with you – not Saakashvili’s movement of new ideas, and not the one which Krivenko represents with Kyshkar in the [Verkhovna] Rada. It is this movement that I became familiar with, one which holds the source of the values that have remained. They haven’t been achieved, but those are values for which Maidan stood, and they are inside every Ukrainian. A Ukrainian is an individualist. Give a person the opportunity to live well, and they will ensure that the state does well.

I will lead the movement like a party. A party that was forgotten, that was misunderstood, and perhaps people have various opinions on it, but people change. One party is not better than another, I agree with you there. Therefore, I propose a different mechanism. I will not enter a party, I am becoming an independent politician. I am becoming an independent politician and opening my own fund. Your trust can be expressed through this fund. I am not going to lie and say that I am creating a party that will be honest and will receive money from the budget for some kind of political actions. No. The way I will do it is, among others, found in the American system. If I’m going into politics, if I’m to go for the Presidency, then, as they say, chip in to support me. Why the fund? So that people understand that the input side will be closed [private], because those who start putting money toward the ideas that I and they believe in, they will start taking heat. The output side of the fund will always be public, so that people can see all receipts, see where the money goes, and see that they can have trust in it. That way, they have direct control over the politician.

Here is what I want to propose for the movement. There is a People’s Movement of Ukraine. It is something that was born even before a free and independent Ukraine was born in 1991. It was a public platform, and it needs to remain a public platform. Not everyone needs to enter the party, and may the party exist and take on a life of its own. One can just come under the banner of this movement, watch and listen. If one believes in it, one can join the party or not. But the party needs to be directed and monitored. Every politician, who sooner or later will enter the government, should be put forth by the movement. Not when the leader brings someone and says: here is your leader, he’s your head, believe him. On the contrary: one must come to the movement and say… because I saw that all existing parties have their local own appointees, whom people don’t trust. Because of that, people also lose trust in the leaders in Kyiv, and they say: your people have sold out, they’re voting for all the wrong laws. That’s the truth.

There is a different mechanism, which would prevent this from happening. Put forward your people. Say: this is someone we trust, this is someone we want appointed. In the end, this entire party will consist of people you trust, people you delegate. And that’s the party I will bring to the Rada. This will be the government that will consciously understand that it was created in order to change the system, and it will live by the system it changes. And none of them will go back to politics afterwards. But you will then be able to fill the ruling posts with good and honest people of conscience, if you understand what I’m talking about right now.

I am leading a movement. The movement returns with hope, the movement returns with faith, the movement returns with strength, the movement returns with action.

Video screen shot, Shuster Live

Video screen shot, Shuster Live

Source: Shuster Live YouTube

Creative Commons License
This translation work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. 


Posted in English News, Pictures | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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)
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.

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.

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.


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


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: 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: 

Creative Commons License
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 News, Help for ukrainian wounded, Pictures, South&Eastern Ukraine, War in Donbas | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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)
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.


Creative Commons License
This translation work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. 


Posted in English, English News, Pictures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment