Kyiv, December 1, 2015. The project of Ukraine’s Security Service “They wait for you at home” allows fighters of illegal armed formations of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”) to officially return home and to peaceful life on the territory of Ukraine. The program was launched in summer 2014. Since that time over a hundred ex-fighters from Avdiivka, Rubizhne, Druzhivka, Kostiantynivka etc. have made use of it. They undergo a special checking procedure; based on results the Security Service (SBU) makes a decision on possibility to relieve them of criminal responsibility or to mitigate it. “The program provides an opportunity to our citizens who in view of different reasons, like their emotions, influence of Russian propaganda etc., have made a false step, but understand the damage inflicted by them to our country and are ready to repent of their actions and to try to start a new life in a democratic country that chose European way of development,” explained author of the program, SBU Control Center Colonel Igor Kutepov at press briefing via Skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the framework of UCMC pilot project “Spokesman of peaceful life.” He also stressed that the program is not intended for people “whose hands are full of blood.” In developing this project the Ukrainian special services used the experience of Northern Ireland and Spain.
The Security Service decided to launch this project, based on information about large number of members of illegal armed formations who want to return to peaceful life in Ukraine. At present their number is about 1000 people. As Colonel Kutiepov stressed, people who fight on the militants’ side can in other way. As of now 12 people have completed the checking procedure to return to peaceful life in Ukraine.
According to Colonel Kutepov, the SBU work is mostly focused on fighters’ families residing in the government-controlled areas. A role of journalists and media in coverage of this program is a very important component here. First family members and close friends turn to the SBU hotline or in its territorial subdivisions and inform about a fighter’s desire to return to peaceful life; then SBU officers establish contacts with them. “Every family can also contact the police or public prosecution bodies and we almost instantly will obtain this information,” assured Igor Kutepov. “However our task is not only to return a person to Ukraine. We adhere to a principle that the person bears responsibility for every committed transgression in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. Therefore we carefully investigate a candidate for return and check him in our data base for the subject of participation in terrorist activity,” emphasized the author of the project and added that in case of concealment of such facts they will be held criminally responsibility. When a former fighter returns the SBU officer meets him and then passes his case to law enforcement bodies depending on suability for his acts. The procedure involves a pre-trial investigation and transfer of materials to court. If there are grounds, then application for relief from criminal liability or its mitigation is filed and court makes the final decision. Article 258 of Criminal Code of Ukraine is a legislative basis for possible change in degree of individual’s responsibility. “Quantitative indicators are not important for us. His repentance and desire to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in order to establish all circumstances of his participation in illegal armed groups are important for us,” said Colonel Kutepov.
According to him, former militants who return to the government-controlled territory give useful testimony of the Russian Federation participation in the conflict in Donbas: how they equip militants with arms and train them.