Hot topics:

Report on the conduct of 6 monitoring missions to Russia, in relation to the case of Nadiya Savchenko

1. Mission 16-18 July 2014

The first mission to Russia organised by the Open Dialog Foundation, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took place on 16-18 July 2014. Its aim was to obtain knowledge and first-hand information about the conditions under which Lieutenant Savchenko is being detained in the prison in Voronez and meet investigators and lawyers involved in the case. In Moscow, the group was to establish contact with representatives of Russian government and judicial institutions, and bring the issue of Savchenko closer to diplomatic representative offices.

It was joined by Ukrainian deputies Oksana Prodan (UDAR), Oleg Osukhovsky (Svoboda), and the Polish MPs Tomasz Makowski (Twój Ruch, Your Move), and Małgorzata Gosiewska (PiS, Law and Justice). The deputies were accompanied by Yurii Byelousov from the office of the Ukrainian ombudsman, Iryna Mukhina of the Civil Freedoms Centre “EuroMajdan-SOS”, Natalya Koshyn of the Human Rights Information Centre, and the journalist of Channel 5 Anna Miroshnychenko together with a camera operator. The mission’s organiser, the Open Dialog Foundation, was represented by Petro Okhotin from its Kiev office. The mission was also to be joined by the deputy Oleksandr Brygynets (Batkivshchyna), but he had been detained by Belarus services on his way to Moscow, during a stopover in Minsk, despite holding a diplomatic passport. The militsyia captain, he was talking to, told him that it was a “verbal order from some executive”.

On 17th July, the group reached the detention centre in Voronezh, where they met Ukrainian Consul Gennadiy Breskalenko, to whom they gave letters from Nadiya’s mother and President Poroshenko. The Consul passed the letters on to the defence lawyers who went to see the detainee. The mission participants also requested, via the Consul, written permission to see her. While awaiting a reply, they displayed the flags of Ukraine and Russia. Ultimately, the Consul was the only one to be granted permission. According to the detention centre’s head, Nadiya Savchenko is entitled to two visits a month, including those from her family and third parties; the Consul was qualified as a “third party”. The head’s deputy suggested that in such a situation, Nadiya’s mother would not be allowed to see her. Asked whether he knew that for eight days Nadiya had been on hunger strike (demanding to see the Consul), he replied: “She was drinking tea”. On location, the mission’s representatives met a journalist of the Ukrainian channel TV ‘1+1’ Yevgeniy Agarkov and his colleague Valentina. On 19.07.2014, Yevgeniy Agarkov was detained for conducting journalist activities in the Russian Federation without holding the required accreditation. The reason for detention was a short film shown on the Ukrainian television station ‘1+1’ in which Yevgeniy conveyed information about Savchenko’s case.

In the meantime Ella Pamfilova, human rights spokesperson of the Russian Federation, came near the detention centre. After the visit, the defence lawyers gave a letter to Ukraine’s President and Nadiya’s mother and the Russian ombudsman. They said that the detainee was in a single cell, which was not air-conditioned despite the heat. The advocate Ilya Novikov went to buy shorts, oat biscuits and milk, which Nadiya had requested. However, prison security refused to accept the products claiming that Thursday was a sanitary day.

The lawyers also reported that Nadiya had written a statement. She said in it that she had been abducted, handcuffed and with her face covered, taken to the Euro motel near Voronezh where she had been interrogated for 10 days without the presence of lawyers. The lawyers filed an appeal with the court against the decision on the temporary arrest of Nadiya Savchenko.

In Voronezh, the mission participants met representatives of Human Rights Home, Anna Dobrovolska and Mariya Gordeyeva, who said that they were prepared to provide assistance in respect of defence of human rights, but “they were not interested in the political aspects of the matter”. They said that according to Russian regulations, a meeting with the mission participants was governed by Article 276 of the Russian Penal Code that is: ”espionage – conveying and gathering, upon instructions from foreign intelligence or a person acting in its interest, information to be used against the security of the Russian Federation”. With this in mind, they did not want to make any political comments on the case of Savchenko. They were interested in the legal aspect only.

On 18th July, in Moscow, the group met representatives of the EU’s delegation to Russia – Carlos Brito of the political section, and Sven-Ollov Carlsson, deputy chair of the delegation, who reported on Savchenko’s situation and that of Oleg Sentsov and also Kolchenko, Afanasev and Chirniy detained together with him. Brito was familiar with the case of Savchenko (confirming that he had contacted Mark Feigin regarding the matter). The situation of Sentsov and the others was largely unknown to him. Brito agreed to write a letter to Nadiya Savchenko. The mission members placed flowers at the Embassy of the Netherlands, a country whose nationals had perished the day before, in the crash of the Malaysian airline plane shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Afterwards, the mission members went to meet the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Moscow, Jarosław Książek. A policeman attempted to check their passports in an unlawful manner, presenting himself as ensign Apatov (ID card No 55190), which was ultimately prevented by a member of the Polish Embassy’s security staff. The meeting included discussions about the cases of Savchenko and Sentsov (Kolchenko, Afanaseva, Chirniy), and it was agreed that the Embassy would continue to provide information about further developments.

2. Mission 24-27 July 2014

It was joined by the secretary of the club of the deputies to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada “Sovereign European Ukraine”, Anastasiya Rozlutska, Petro Okhotin of the Open Dialog Foundation, and the STB journalist Iryna Storozhenko together with a camera operator.

While in Voronezh, the mission members inended to see Lieutenant Nadiya Savchenko, but, as before, the penitentiary authorities did not allow the visit. On the next day, a hearing was held concerning detention as a preventive measure against Nadiya Savchenko. Before the hearing, a meeting was held with Ukraine’s consul in the Russian Federation Genadiy Breskalenko. Mr Breskalenko pointed out to the mission participants a black car, which, as he said, had followed the Consul all the way. The Consul also recalled the matter of Eugeniy Agarkov and urged vigilance (Agarkov was arrested by the Russians on 18 July while the first mission was underway and deported after 12 days).

The hearing concerning Nadyia Savchenko was open, and journalists from Russian television were waiting in front of the building. People calling themselves “refugees” addressed Consul Breskalenko when he appeared in front of the building. They asserted he took too great an interest in Savchenko’s case, while it was they who actually needed help. The whole scene appeared to have been staged for the benefit of Russian television.

The session was held in the building of the regional court in Voronezh. Lieutenant Savchenko was not present at the hearing. She was in the detention centre (SIZO) at the time and the only method of communication with her was through video conferencing. The quality of transmission was poor; the lieutenant could not understand the words of her own defence lawyers at some points. The lawyers and the court used Russian whilst Nadiya spoke Ukrainian. The interpreter for the accused was Anna Kumova, who made many mistakes in her interpretations. Savchenko’s defence lawyers requested a different interpreter to which the court did not agree. As a result of the hearing, the court did not change the decision on imposing a preventive measure upon Savchenko in the form of detention. After the session had ended, the Ukrainian journalist Iryna Storozhenko put up the Ukrainian flag in the courtroom, an act for which, a moment later, she was thrown out of the building by the security. Nadiya Savchenko commented on the incident by enouncing: “Slava Ukraini”(Glory to Ukraine!). The remaining people in the room replied “Geroyam slava” (Glory to heroes).

The identities of all members of the Ukrainian delegation were made to present documents near the court building by the immigration service of the Russian Federation.

3. Mission 11-14 August 2014

It was joined by the Polish MP Andrzej Lewandowski (Twój Ruch, Your Move), the representative of the Ukrainian organisation Centre for Civil Liberties and the civil supervision group OZON Valeria Rybak, and Petro Okhotin of the Kiev office of the Open Dialog Foundation. The mission was organised as a result of information being received about abuses and violations of fundamental rights of Ukrainian citizens in prisons on the territory of the Russian Federation.

In the interests of avoidance of any official problems, the participants sent letters informing the following authorities/institutions in the Russian Federation of the mission’s aim:

  • Presidential Administration
  • Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.
  • Document numbers:
  • to Leutenant General Oleshko-”12500977020841”
  • to Burdin (FSB Infestigation Department) -”12300977020858”

On 11.08.2014, the mission participants visited the following institutions in Moscow:

  • Pre-trial Detention Centre No2 „Lefortovo” of the Federal Security Service
  • The Investigation Department of the Federal Security Service
  • The Federal State Budgetary Institution „Government Research Centre of Social and Forensic Psychiatry named after V.P.Serbskiy”
  • A meeting with Charge d’Affaires a.i of Ukraine in the RF R.M.Nimchinskiy (minister counsellor)

In these institutions, they were denied visits to Ukrainian citizens: Sentsov, Kolchenko, and Cherniy. Contact with the detainees is made exceptionally difficult, as even their lawyers have problems communicating with them. Another item on the mission agenda was to meet representatives of the Ukrainian authorities on the territory of the Russian Federation. The temporary representative of Ukraine in the Russian Federation Ruslan Niemchynsky and the Consul Gennadiy Brekslaenko confirmed their full support for the mission participants. They considered the Foundation’s activities in support of the illegally detained citizens of Ukraine to be extremely important and declared their readiness to provide all necessary help and assistance.

On 12 August, the mission participants went to Voronezh where they visited the following institutions/authorities:

  • The City Prosecutor’s Office
  • The Voronezh Oblast Prosecutor’s Office
  • Pre-trial Detention Centre No3 of the Federal Penitentiary Service administration
  • Chamber of the President of the Russian Federation
  • The third secretary of the political department of the U.S Embassy in the RF Yulia Hroblaker.

During the meetings, the mission participants found out, amongst other things, that Cherniy had been transferred to PDF Lefortovo.

In Voronezh, a (failed) attempt was made to meet investigators concerning the case of Lieutenant Savchenko and the accused herself too (twice). Regrettably, the Russian authorities denied a visit to the Ukrainian citizen. The prosecutors (Butyrin and Sidorov) received a notification on the missions, as well as letters from the deputy Andrzej Lewandowski. Deputy prosecutor Andrei Suslikov met the mission’s members. He refused to accept the letters from Andrzej Lewandowski and informed them that the matter was being dealt with by the Oblast Prosecutor’s office.

On 13.08.2014, the Polish MP Andrzej Lewandowski, Petro Okhotin, Valeriya Rybak and Maksym Anatoliyovych Mantiuk (assistant to the secretary in the Ukrainian Embassy in the Russian Federation) met the defence lawyer of Oleksandr Kolchanko, Svitlana Ivanovna Sidorkna. Then, the mission participants met Ms Pamfilova who had managed to visit both Kolchenko and Sentsov in the detention centre. They familiarised themselves with information on the progress in the investigation and learnt about the conditions in which both activists are being kept. They also received the information that Kolchenko is being treated as a citizen of the Russian Federation (as a resident of the Crimea) even though his documents show clearly that he is a citizen of Ukraine.

4. Mission 24-28 August 2014

August 25th mission participants went to the meeting of the court in case of Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. Natalia Paul was also present at the hearing – she is the first adviser of the Ukrainian consul in the Russian Federation. During the hearing an appeal has been requested by the attorney Dmitrii Dinze to submit evidence by investigating A. Burdin. The proposal was rejected.

After the hearing, the mission participants went to the detention center No. 3 Lefortovo where they applied for the vision of detainee Sentsov. The next stage involves a visit to the detention center No. 2 Butyrka where they tried to meet with Chirniy, but the investigators rejected their request.

In addition, mission participants took part in a meeting with the prosecutor Genadii Ushakov. He received a report on the case of Lieutenant Savchenko, created by the Foundation Open Dialoge. After the visit, the members have requested a meeting with the representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

Then they went to the headquarters of the Russian Federation Investigative committee with the intention of meeting with investigators. The letter was accepted by the officials, nevertheless the mission was informed that telephone registration is required.

Furthermore, members of the mission had requested a meeting with a representative of the Presidential Administration, which passed the Open Dialog Foundation’s report concerning the case of kidnapped Nadiya Savchenko.

Aug 27, held a hearing in court Sovetskii (Moscow) on the lieutenant Savchenko. The hearing concerned an application submitted by the prosecutor, for an extension of detention for the accused.

Conduct of the hearing was controversial – Russian investigators were not able to present a single proof of guilt Savchenko, which pointed out the defender of the accused. Despite the request of the investigating Manshina an extension of pre-trial detention was adopted by the Court, Nadiya Savchenko judgment is to remain in custody until 30.10.2014.

5. Mission 14-15 September 2014

Members of the mission: Anastsiia Chornohorska, ODF Ukraine, Lilia Naunchuck, OZON Court Monitoring (Center of Civic Liberties), Andrzej Lewandowski, MP of Polish Parliament.
14.09 the mission has arrived to Moskow. Lewandovski has arrived earlier and met with Mark Feigin. Mission from Kyiv has arrived in the evening and met with Levandovski and Illia Novikov. They together went to Voronezh.

15.09 Novikov had a meeting with Nadiya in SIZO. The mission met Ukrainian council Hennadiy Breskalenko. They went to SIZO where they gave appeals for a meeting with Savchenko to a deputy head of SIZO Gorshkov Roman Vasilievich. After that delegation went to the court hearing. After the hearing Novikov met Savchenko in SIZO again and the members if the mission had a conversation with Breskalenko. After that, the mission together with Novikov left Voronezh to Moskow.

The court hearing was an appeal about prolonging Nadiya’s detention. Nadiya was not present at the hearing; conference connection was used. Her lawyer Illia Novikov was present. Procecutor Butyrin presented the causation side.

Novikov read materials of the case and protocols of witnesses’ interrogation. The main arguments were evidences of witness Syniagivskiy. He was interrogated with the use of tortures. The evidences of two other witnesses with changed names we’re read. Witnesses told that Savchenko was guilty, but in fact they didn’t named any facts. Those victims’ evidences seemed to be falsies. Novikov also stated that there are no evidences of Savchenko’s fault. So, the demand of defenders was to release Nadiya under guarantee of 1 million rub. The Procecutor demanded not to release Savchenko because in that case she can easily leave Russia. Savchenko stated that she is not guilty, and reminded that she was stolen into Ukraine and forced to be in Russia. She wondered why if it is thought to be possible to leave Russia, it was not possible to be stolen in Ukraine and brought to Russia.

The court hasn’t satisfied the appeal. Savchenko remains detained until Oct, 30.

6. Mission 13 October 2014

The mission members Anastasiia Chornohorska (Open Dialog Foundation) and Liliia Naumchuck (OZON Civic Monitoring) visited Russia to attend the court hearing. Natalia Paul, the 1st secretary of Ukrainian council for consulate issues, accompanied the mission.

The mission members visited the Investigation Committee of Russian Federation, but they were refused a meeting with a representative of the IC. The members of the mission have registered an appeal about their visit and left a report, prepared by the ODF, which provides evidence of Savchenko‘s innocence.

At that time, the attorneys learnt that Nadiya had already been taken to the Serbsky State Scientific Centre for Social and Forensic Psychiatry to undergo expert examination; It was published on the official website of the Investigation Committee, but attorneys were not informed of the fact. Later, it became known that Savchenko had been in Serbsky since 10.10.2014.
The court hearing concerning the appeal of attorneys regarding the stationary psychiatric expertise of Savchenko in the Serbsky State Scientific Centre for Social and Forensic Psychiatry was appointed at 4 p.m. Moscow time in the Basmanny District Court of Moscow. It was a continuation of the hearing held on 26.09.2014. At that juncture, the attorneys demanded the postponement of the hearing to allow for Savchenko`s presence at the court.

An hour before the commencement of the hearing, a crowd of journalists had already gathered near the court building. There were journalists from Russian TV channels and 2 from Ukrainian ones, namely 1+1 and Inter. Ukrainian MPs from the ‘Batkivshchyna’ party Andriy Shevchenko, Valery Dubil, Andreiy Pavlovski, Andriy Kozhemyakin, and Oleksandra Kuzhel had arrived to attend the hearing together with Mariya Savchenko, Nadiya`s mother. They were allowed to enter the court building, while journalists and others were still waiting outside. Also, the Ukrainian consul in Moscow Hennadiy Breskalenko and the 1st consulate secretary Natalia Paul were allowed to enter. The representatives of the USA and German embassies were also present at the doorstep of the court. Later, the court press secretary Anna Fadeeva emerged and announced that the start of the hearing was being delayed, as the judge was engaged in other activities.

At almost 4.40 p.m., the visitors and the journalists (except operators with cameras) were allowed to enter the building. The hearing began, but only the attorneys were present; the rest were just waiting inside the building. Nadiya Savchenko was not delivered to the court. The investigator presented the response to the request made to the Serbsky State Scientific Centre for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, which read that it was not reasonable to interrupt the expertise and to deliver Nadiya.

The attorney`s appeal to postpone the hearing was satisfied. The next hearing will be held on 11.11.2014, after the 30-day expert examination has been finalised. After the expert examination has been concluded, Nadiya will be permitted to attend the hearing. Meanwhile, the hearing will still have its value: If the attorney‘s appeal is satisfied, than all the results of the expertise will not be included in the case materials. At the same time, the term of Nadiya`s detention ends on 30.10.2014, so it is expected that there will be one more court hearing regarding the prolongation of her detention prior to that date.