Tag Archives: Viktor Yanukovych

Nadiya Savchenko: Yanukovych fell, so will Putin #Savchenko #Putin #Russia

Halya Coynash.Nadiya SavchenkoNadiya Savchenko

Nadiya Savchenko, the Ukrainian officer held in a Russian SIZO or pre-trial detention centre since her capture by Kremlin-backed militants and abducted to Russia is to face a forced psychiatric examination in the notorious Serbsky Institute in Moscow. In a statement passed to her lawyer, Savchenko has condemned the psychiatric examination as illegal and said that she will be refusing to give any testimony, answer any questions etc.

She clearly states that she “was illegally abducted from Ukraine, unlawfully brought to the Russian Federation and is being held here illegally. She considers the psychiatric examination to be carried out on her unlawful. She is therefore refusing to speak with the clinic staff; to give any kind of testimony; to answer any questions in writing or verbally; to fill in any forms or undergo any tests.

The Serbsky Institute gained notoriety in Soviet times for its application of punitive psychiatry and the fact that Savchenko is being placed there for a month is of grave concern. She herself categorically prohibits the use against her of any psychological or physical pressure; any substances added to food, injected or placed in her bed linen that has a psychological or physical effect

At the court hearing on Aug 27, Savchenko’s detention was again extended until Oct 30. This was the first occasion that she was brought to the courtroom, though kept enclosed in a glass cubicle.

As on all previous occasions Nadiya Savchenko demonstrated her courage and refusal to be cowered. She rejected any involvement in the death of Russian journalists and said that she did not understand what connection the Russian investigators and court had to events in Ukraine.

She also told the court: “You have no justice, you have no law. Thank God Yanukovych has gone. I will hope that Putin will also soon go.”

Savchenko was taken prisoner in the Luhansk oblast by militants from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic on June 17 or 18. Two days later a video appeared of her being interrogated by the militants. She demonstrated courage during the interrogation and refused to provide the information the militants demanded.

On July 2 a Russian court remanded her in custody until August 30. Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on July 9 that charges had been laid against Savchenko for alleged “complicity in the group killing of two or more people carrying out official activities in a publicly hazardous manner for motives of political hatred”.

The investigators claim that in June, as a member of the Aidar Battalion, Savchenko found out the whereabouts of a group of TV Rossiya journalists and other civilians outside Luhansk, and passed these to fighters who carried out a mortar attack which killed TV Rossiya employees Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin.

They also assert that Savchenko crossed the Russian border, without any documents, pretending to be a refugee. They allege that she was initially detained to establish her identity.

This story is totally denied by Savchenko who says she was forcibly taken across the border with a bag over her head and in handcuffs. The Russian investigators’ version is also wildly implausible. More details about the holes in the case, and the use of Russian TV to try to conceal them here.

Russia has effectively abducted five Ukrainian nationals and is holding another in custody on highly suspect grounds. Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Gennady Afanasyev and Oleksy Chirny are all from the Crimea and all actively opposed Russia’s annexation of their homeland. They were arrested at different times in May and after interrogation allegedly with the use of torture were taken to Moscow where they are facing positively far-fetched ‘terrorist’ charges. Chirny has also been subjected to a Serbsky Institute ‘examination’ and the NGO Open Dialogue has expressed concern that he could be the victim of punitive psychiatry. Yury Yatsenko, a final law student from Lviv has been held in custody, supposedly awaiting deportation since May. A couple of weeks ago, the Russian authorities suddenly charged him with equally dubious charges of ‘smuggling explosives’.

Halya Coynash

Information about the court hearing and Nadiya Savchenko’s statement from Hromadskie.tv

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

Ukraine: Right Sector pickets Prosecutor General Office

Ihor Mazur (left), a spokesperson for demonstrators, speaks to reporters on June 17 outside the Prosecutor General's office in Kyiv. Nearly 100 demonstrators came to demand that old-regime officials be removed from the prosecutorial government body.Ihor Mazur (left), a spokesperson for demonstrators, speaks to reporters on June 17 outside the Prosecutor General’s office in Kyiv. Nearly 100 demonstrators came to demand that old-regime officials be removed from the prosecutorial government body. © William Schreiber

On June 17, a demonstration at the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office – organized by Right Sector and what’s left of security and defense units of the EuroMaidan Revolution – stole the spotlight from the state attorney, who had to cancel a scheduled press conference on the government’s corruption-fighting efforts.

Absence of systemic change in the wake of the 100-day popular uprising that ousted the corrupt regime of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, close to 100 activists affiliated with the history-changing movement came to the rally. A spokesman for the demonstrators said that the lack of reform over the past two months highlights the need to rid the prosecutorial body of old-regime officials.

“The prosecutor’s office is one of the most conservative state institutions today in Ukraine,” said Ihor Mazur, spokesman for the demonstrations. Mazur singled out the Kyiv Prosectuor’s office in particular, which he says has remained unchanged since the Yanukovych administration.

Although the group was aware of the anti-corruption briefing, the protesters said it did not directly relate to the content of the postponed announcement. A Justice Ministry spokesman said the briefing would likely be rescheduled.

The protests were coordinated with a similar action in front of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s legislature. There, demonstrators called for pre-term parliamentary elections.

Kyiv Post intern William Schreiber can be reached at william.schreiber@yale.edu.

Kyiv Post

Journalists gather for Mezhyhirya Fest investigative conference

The US Ambassador in Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Kyiv Post editor Katya Gorchinskaya, DR Orientering editor Brita Kvist Hansen, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project coordinator and Kyiv Post staff writer Vlad Lavrov give the Ukraine’s first ever investigative journalism award to Lyubomyr Ferens of TVi.The US Ambassador in Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, Kyiv Post editor Katya Gorchinskaya, DR Orientering editor Brita Kvist Hansen, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project coordinator and Kyiv Post staff writer Vlad Lavrov give the Ukraine’s first ever investigative journalism award to Lyubomyr Ferens of TVi. © Anastasia Vlasova

Documents exposing the enormous web of corruption involving Viktor Yanukovych were in the spotlight at Mezhyhirya Fest, an international conference on investigative journalism held at the fugitive ex-president’s opulent country estate outside Kyiv.

The three-day festival at the sprawling 140-hectare estate, some 10 kilometers north of the capital, featured more than 30 events and brought together more than 300 leading Ukrainian and international experts and activists.

Debates and workshops on subjects ranging from social media use in an age of digital activism and legal aspects of investigative journalism were held at “Putin’s House,” the guest house in which Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly stayed on his visits to Mezhyhirya. Putin is now harboring Yanukovych, who is wanted for mass murder and corruption charges, in Russia.

The venue represented a symbolic victory, said Anna Babinets of YanukovychLeaks, the team of Ukrainian journalists who first gained access to the compound following Yanukovych’s hasty flight from Ukraine on Feb. 22 as the EuroMaidan Revolution succeeded in ousting him from power.

“This festival is a step towards strengthening the victory of democracy in Ukraine, and the venue is a reminder of the fact that things have changed. It’s great to be able to hold the event here,” Babinets said.

The band Dakh Daughters provided the entertainment on June 6.The band Dakh Daughters provided the entertainment on June 6.

Attracting international media attention, the team discovered some 200 folders containing more than 25,000 records documenting the politician’s activities. The majority were retrieved from the estate’s swimming pool and the Dnipro River which skirts its perimeter, into which Yanukovych and his team presumably threw the stash in the hopes of preventing details of his illicit finances from ever emerging.

They were not so lucky. With the help of 17 scanners and more than 60 volunteers, including experts in the preservation of documents, the team dried out and scanned each sheet of paper before uploading the incriminating evidence onto “yanukovychleaks.org,” a website created for this purpose. On the first day the site attracted almost two million visitors, and now hosts 23,456 records in Ukrainian, Russian and English. A half-hour documentary about the team’s efforts premiered at the event.  Continue reading

The story of YanukovychLeaks documentary

The former president of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych fled his residence on Feb. 22. Volunteer divers found nearly 200 folders of documents at a lake at the residence.The former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych fled his residence on Feb. 22. Volunteer divers found nearly 200 folders of documents at a lake at the residence. © president.gov.ua

When Viktor Yanukovych fled his residence on Feb. 22, he tried to destroy something precious before escaping. Some 120 folders of documents were dumped in the lake, containing precious evidence of corruption, his lavish lifestyle and excesses. But the drowning operation did not go as smoothly as he had hoped for.

Some documents were accidentally spotted flowing on the surface by journalists who came to the estate that day. They called in divers, and that’s how the rescue started. For more than a week, a groups of journalists and many volunteers dried, photographed and scanned those documents. This is how YanukovychLeaks project started. The documentary, created in support of Mezhyhirya Fest, a festival of investigative journalism and online activism, tells the story.

A new  documentary “Newsroom Mezhyhirya: The story of YanukovychLeaks” has been released.

On Feb. 22, volunteer divers found nearly 200 folders of documents at a lake at the residence of former president of Ukraine. They had been thrown in the lake to destroy them as people were escaping the compound.

Newsroom Mezhyhirya

Russian history textbook doctors the records on Crimean annexation

Pedestrians walk past an wall painting depicting a map of Crimean peninsula bearing the colours of Russia's national flag in Moscow, on March 31, 2014.Pedestrians walk past a wall painting depicting a map of Crimean peninsula bearing the colours of Russia’s national flag in Moscow, on March 31, 2014. © AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV

The March 16 ’referendum’ on the Crimea’s status was condemned by Ukraine and the international community.  Russia invited a number of  far-right and neo-Stalinist parties to act as ’observers’.

Russia has already added information about its annexation of the Crimea to a school history textbook with the version presented just as doctored as the results of the ‘referendum’ used to claim overwhelming support for the move.

Lenta.ru reports that a new Russian textbook for the 9th grade is about to go on sale with a brief, but rather specific, presentation of the events around Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has ordered that other textbooks also be brought into line.

The textbook’s authors – Alexander Danilov, Ludmila Kosulina and Maxim Brandt – have followed Putin’s lead in stressing the role played by the Crimea and Sevastopol in Russian history. With respect to the events in 2014, the account is best quoted in full.

“At the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 the situation in Ukraine became exacerbated. In February 2014 the legitimate president of the country, Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown, and power went to the opposition. One of its first decisions was to revoke a law on the status of the Russian language and to prohibit its use on an equal basis with Ukrainian. The parliament of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, which was part of Ukraine, refused to obey the Kyiv authorities,

On March 6 2014, the Crimean parliament passed a decision that the Republic would join the Russian Federation and set a referendum on this for March 16. According to the results of the referendum, 96.77% of Crimeans, and 95.6% of residents of Sevastopol were in favour of the Crimea and Sevastopol reuniting with Russia. On March 18 an agreement was signed on the Crimea and Sevastopol joining Russia as a subject of the Federation. Following ratification by both sides of the agreement on March 21, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law on the Crimea joining Russia and on the formation of two subjects of the Russian Federation – the Republic of the Crimea and as city of federal significance, Sevastopol. A Crimean federal district was created.”

The good thing about most school kids is that they don’t ask inconvenient questions, Their teachers may which was doubtless the reason for such immense haste in presenting a ‘correct version of events’, the kind students should learn – and repeat for good grades.

Silence about the EuroMaidan protests which made world headlines for more than 3 months was not unexpected. Nor the police gunning down of unarmed protesters which led to Maidan’s ultimatum for Yanukovych to go. This, in fact, is what he did, fleeing first to Kharkiv, then to Russia where he has been in hiding ever since. The version could have been much worse, as the Kremlin and Russian media have demonstrated, but for a school textbook greater accuracy would have been desirable.   Continue reading