Oct 25, 2021
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported, “Imprisoned RFE/RL freelance correspondent Vladyslav Yesypenko has appealed to U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. lawmakers to do more to free the more than 100 political prisoners detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) over their activities in Crimea.
Yesypenko, who has been in detention in Russian-occupied Crimea since March, made the appeal in a letter read publicly for the first time on October 21 at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.
‘There can be no greater hell than being trapped in these four walls day after day, month after month, for half a year now, only allowed outside on command for a few breaths of fresh air and then back to your cell, helpless to change a thing,’ Yesypenko said.
He called on Biden and members of Congress to send a ‘clear signal’ to Russian President Vladimir Putin that ‘America stands with Ukraine, which has demanded time and again that the occupying power put a stop to violations of human rights in Crimea and release all political prisoners.’
The letter was carried by hand to the United States by Yesypenko’s wife, Kateryna Yesypenko, who is currently visiting the United States to meet with members of Congress and U.S. State Department officials as part of an effort to raise awareness of the situation in Crimea. Kateryna Yesypenko read the letter during a briefing at the Ukrainian Embassy.
Yesypenko’s letter details how he was ‘abducted’ by the FSB and graphically describes torture by electric shock that was ‘melting’ his brain and making it feel like his heart would burst out of his chest unless he waived his right to a lawyer and testified against himself.
He has previously said in court that he was tortured for two days from the moment he was detained until his transfer to a detention center in Simferopol in Crimea.
The journalist names several other people, including Oleksiy Bessarabov and Volodymyr Dudka — two Ukrainian men sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2019 for plotting sabotage in Crimea — who are among more than 100 others who were ‘unlawfully detained and thrown behind bars’ and now await sentencing.
Many, he says, were coerced into confessing after being tortured and threatened with death, and after enduring threats against their families and loved ones.
‘We are doing all we can to resist, renouncing what we said under torture, speaking out in courts, writing letters to the outside world, to let you all know we are not giving up,’ he said.”