22.10.2021

The action in defense of prisoners

Participants in the Kiev “March for the Release of Prisoners” conveyed to the international community the demands to force Russia to comply with humanitarian law. The “March for the Release of Prisoners”, held in Kiev on Saturday, May 19, began with a rally on Independence Square in Kiev. Subsequently, the participants in the rally organized by the Union of Veterans of the War with Russia went to the Red Cross and the embassies of Germany and France. The event was attended by several hundred public activists, relatives of prisoners of war and victims of war in the Donbass, volunteers, military personnel who survived captivity, activists of nationalist organizations and football fans. They demanded that Russia observe the humanitarian rights of captured and imprisoned Ukrainians. And from the West – to force the Kremlin to provide Ukrainian prisoners with medical and legal assistance.

The action is not only in defense of prisoners

Participants of the “March for the Release of Prisoners” on Independence Square held portraits of prisoners of war and Ukrainian prisoners in Russia in their hands. They shouted the slogans “Freedom to the prisoners!”, “Freedom to the prisoners of the Kremlin!”, “Peace to the Donbass – death to the Kremlin”. Another slogan was added to the embassies of Germany and France: “Today we are, and tomorrow you!” Speakers at the rally called the names of captured Ukrainian soldiers and political prisoners in Russia Oleg Sentsov, Nikolai Karpyuk and others.

The protesters marched from Independence Square to the Red Cross office in Ukraine, the embassies of Germany and France, and transferred their demands. They call on the Red Cross and the OSCE to visit Ukrainian prisoners and political prisoners in order to assess the conditions of their detention in the Crimea, in Russia and in the occupied territory of Donbass. And in case of refusal of Moscow and the occupation administrations – to inform the signatories of the Minsk agreements – Germany and France, who should put appropriate pressure on Moscow.

Eyewitness accounts

One of the Ukrainian military Vladimir Zhemchugov returned from twelve-month captivity blind and without hands. He said that the jailers were not interested in his severe injury, rotting wounds and loss of vision. “I remember the case when a Ukrainian prisoner was brought to our cell, who after torture lost consciousness and remained in this state for three days, chained to the bunkers. We cannot forget those who remain in captivity. It is good that the EU recognized the presence of Russian aggression in the fourth year of the war. Now we must put pressure on Europe to force the Kremlin to return our military and end the war, ”said Zhemchugov.

In turn, the person involved in the “Sentsov case”, who was released from an exchange in a Russian prison, Simferopol photographer Gennady Afanasyev said in an interview with DW that he had come to this action as a simple citizen, but he was very glad that its organizers demand respect for humanitarian and human rights not only prisoners of war, but also political prisoners of the Kremlin regime. He emphasized that he was trying by all means to help those who remained in Russian captivity and to remind the West of their fate. “We must convey our demands to the world community, because they simply don’t believe what barbarism Russia is committing is possible in the center of Europe today,” Afanasyev said.

One of the initiators of the creation of a group for monitoring the rights of prisoners Anatoly Polyakov, he himself served 9 months in captivity. He told DW that he was now promoting the bill on the status of prisoners in the Verkhovna Rada. “Every day in captivity, it’s not at all like one day at large. I am amazed at how many people came to this action, because it is very important for the moral support of our children, who are still in captivity and their relatives. We must convey our demands to the whole world, ”said Polyakov.

Red Cross recognizes powerlessness

The representative of the Red Cross in Ukraine Taras Loginov said that his organization regularly turns to the self-proclaimed “DPR / LPR” for permission to visit Ukrainian prisoners, but their leadership ignores these requests. According to the organizers of the March for the release of prisoners, “while we are talking about 75 only officially registered Ukrainians who are in prisons in the Donbass, Crimea and Russia. But as one of the activists Markin Yatsinyak said, the Russian special services continue to regularly abduct Ukrainians and in fact their number in Russian prisons can reach more than a hundred people.

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