March 4, 2021


The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) reported, “A Russian court has sentenced 62-year-old Oleh Prykhodko to five years of harsh regime imprisonment, with the first year to be served in a prison, the worst of all Russian penal institutions. 


The sentence was significantly lower than that demanded by the prosecutor, but then the judges can have been in no doubt that they were sentencing an innocent man to a term of imprisonment that he may not survive. The defence had demonstrated over and over again that the charges against the 62-year-old who had never concealed his opposition to Russia’s occupation of Crimea had been brazenly fabricated.


There was never any possibility of doubting the political nature of Prykhodko’s arrest on 9 October 2019, and prosecution. It was, after all, a repeat of the earlier persecution of Volodymyr Balukh, coming literally one month after Balukh was released as one of the political prisoners whom Russia released in exchange, mainly, for MH17 witness and likely suspect, Volodymyr Tsemakh. 


Both Balukh and Prykhodko had openly flown the Ukrainian flag over their homes in Crimea and spoken of their opposition to Russia’s occupation.  Both had suffered constant harassment from the occupation regime and administrative prosecutions before FSB officers turned up at their homes and claimed to have ‘found’ ammunition, in Balukh’s case, or  ‘explosives’, in Prykhodko’s.  In the subsequent ‘trials’, the defence presented compelling evidence that the cases had been fabricated, which the ‘judges’ ignored.”


Furthermore, Ukrinform reported that, “Former Kremlin’s political prisoners have set up the Release of Prisoners platform.The presentation took place at the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery with the participation of representatives of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Religious Administration of Muslims of Crimea and foreign ambassadors, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.


‘The platform is a non-partisan association created to protect the rights of and release all those imprisoned for political reasons in the occupied territories and within the country. Our goal is to restore justice for everyone, release political prisoners and counter Russian aggression,’ said Pavlo Hryb, a former political prisoner and co-founder of the platform. He also stressed that the newly formed association would operate exclusively on the basis of international and Ukrainian law.


Former political prisoner and the platform’s co-founder Oleh Sentsov stressed that the platform members expected the release of political prisoners to become a priority for the Ukrainian authorities and international partners. ‘Our goal is to do everything possible so that political prisoners are known, remembered and talked about all the time,’ Sentsov said.


The founders of the platform are also Volodymyr Zhemchuhov, Roman Sushchenko, Mykola Karpyuk, Edem Bekirov, Akhtem Chiygoz, Stanislav Aseev, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Volodymyr Balukh, Ihor Kozlovsky, Yevhen Panov, Ilmi Umerov, Mykola Semena, Ismayil Ramazanov, Oleksandr Shumkov, and Ihor Movenko.


Former Ukrinform correspondent Roman Sushchenko was sentenced in Russia to 12 years in prison on ‘espionage’ charges and stayed behind bars for three years. Crimeans Sentsov and Kolchenko were sentenced to 20 and 10 years, respectively, on charges of ‘plotting terrorist attacks’ in the occupied Crimea. They were released as part of an exchange in 2019.


As reported, the Russian Federation currently holds in custody more than 100 political prisoners from the occupied Ukrainian territories.”