Ukrainian Political Prisoner Found Serving Russian Sentence in Eastern Ukraine
4 July, 2019

Russia holds about a hundred Ukrainians, whom Ukraine considers political prisoners. Film director Oleg Sentsov, anarchist Oleksandr Kolchenko, and political activist Mykola Karpyuk are among them. Their cases are politically motivated: Russian investigative bodies fabricate materials, on which Russian courts then make judgments.

Ukraine uses all means to demand that Russia returns Ukrainian captives to their homes. Serhiy Litvinov was among those who were unlawfully held and convicted.

In August 2014, he left his native border village Komyshne in Luhansk region, to visit Tarasovsky hospital in Russia – to treat gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). In the hospital he was arrested and accused of being a member of the Dnipro-1 battalion, killing 39 civilians and raping another 8. However, in 2015, Russian Prosecutor General's Office apologized for false accusations against Litvinov, but Tarasovsky District Court of Russia sentenced him for robbery instead – as if Litvinov, along with other Ukrainian servicemen, "swiped" two cars. For this “crime” the Ukrainian was sentenced to 8.5 years' imprisonment. After spending five years in the colonies of Rostov and Magadan, Hromadske found Litvinov in Dykanivska colony in Kharkiv.

According to Maria Tomak, the coordinator of the "Media Initiative for Human Rights", if Serhiy Litvinov, is released – for whatever reason – Russia can blame Ukraine for violating the Council of Europe Convention – under which Litvinov was brought to Ukraine – and stop transferring Ukrainians convicted in Russia. This could also affect other kinds of prisoners charged in Russia, not just political ones. Tomak notes that there are hundreds of Ukrainian citizens imprisoned in Russia who wish to be transferred home under this convention.

The publication of the news that Litvinov is kept in a colony in Ukraine sparked an active discussion on social networks. Ukrainian Ministry of Justice expressed an opinion that "the hype around Litvinov" could hurt both him and other "captives of the Kremlin". Despite this, Hromadske considers this subject to be socially significant which is why we are now publishing our exclusive interview with Serhiy Litvinov.