Torture, madness, tears: reportage from Grozny – the city where Ukrainians are being adjudged

The original article in Ukrainian was published on Censor. net here

UCMC publishes a shortened version in English.

In Grozny the trial against two Ukrainians – Mykola Karpiuk (one of the “Right Sector” leaders) and Stanislav Klykh (history teacher from Kyiv) comes to an end. They both were arrested in early 2014. “Cenzor.NET” journalist is one of the few Ukrainian journalists who visited the capital of Chechnya. Here you can read about her impressions of Grozny and the trial of Ukrainian political prisoners.

Postponed trial

The building of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic is enclosed with a high concrete barbed wire fence. The prisoners’ relatives have been informed that no court hearing will take place today, because  judge Vahit Ismailov has fallen ill.

“I expected some provocations on the border, but not in the court …,” Mykola Karpiuk’s brother Anatoliy says in embarrassment.

The witnesses for the defense came from Ukraine for the first time to visit the court hearing – Klykh’s mother Tamara and his cousin, and two Karpiuk’s brothers. They have covered nearly 2000 kilometers, spent a lot of money (Karpiuk’s brother admitted that he had taken up a loan) to find out that the hearing will be postponed for uncertain period.

Klykh’s 72-year-old mother Tamara is crying and taking sedatives. The lawyers give her a choice – she can visit her son, whom she has not seen for almost two years, in the Investigation Cell; but in this case she may not be a witness for his defense.

Tamara Klykh is hesitating over a choice. After several hours of hesitation she decides not to visit her son. She burst into tears several times that day.


Karpyiuk and Klykh were arrested in the spring of 2014, when the Russian TV told stories about chastisers and killers. In March, Mykola Karpiuk as Dmytro Yarosh’s deputy in “Right Sector,” allegedly went to Russia for talks. He was detained immediately after crossing the border. Neither his relatives nor lawyers and consuls could reach him for some months. Stanislav Klykh was detained in the Russian city of Orel in August of the same 2014. He came to Orel to have a date with a woman he had met in Crimea. Initially he was detained for “disobedience to law enforcement officers.” Then he was accused of killing Russian soldiers in Chechnya twenty years before.

At the request of human rights activists, lawyer Marina Dubrovina found Stanislav Klykh 10 months after his disappearance.

Torture and “confessions”

The lawyer said, “After about 4 or 5 days of torture, a letter appears, in bad handwriting: “I ask for further interrogation.” And this further interrogation means the beginning of “confession”. Because after hanging on the rack … It is a form of torture – arms behind the back and up and hung by handcuffs. That is, he is hanging on the handcuffs, you know? That is, the hands are all twisted, the shoulder joints, you know? That is, he could not hold a spoon in his hand, could not hold a pen. And plus electric currant.”

Confessions of Mykola Karpiuk – the lawyers say – were also beaten out. The site of the human rights group “Memorial” published a petition of Karpiuk’s lawyer in which Mykola himself describes the way he was tortured.

“They tied my arms and legs with ropes, took off the handcuffs. Then they attached cleats to the second toe of the right foot and the middle finger of the right hand. After that they began to pass electric current with varying duration: now for some dozens of seconds, then some instantaneous thrusts, then for a long time. How long it lasted, I do not know. I did not confessed in anything, because I did not take part in hostilities,” says Karpiuk to his lawyer “On March 25 they brought me once again They said that they were tired of my stubbornness, and that they had given an order to seize my son and bring him so that they could subject him to the same torture in front of my eyes. I told them not to touch my son and wife, I’m willing to take the blame and sign all the necessary documents. ”

When lawyers found Karpiuk and Klykh, the suspects denied all their confessions, and later they stated in the court – they made them under torture.


The Russian government accuses the two Ukrainians of the fact that they, as members of the UNA-UNSO, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense” (acknowledged as extremist organization in Russia), in late 1994 – early 1995, took part in the fightings in ​​”Minutka” Square and at the Presidential Palace. And, the investigators claim, killed 30 Russian soldiers, tortured prisoners, killed the wounded.

But the Chechens, who can remember the war well, say – there were no fights in ​​”Minutka” Square on those days at all. This place was a deep rear.

“There were no hostilities in ​​”Minutka” Square either on December 31, 1994 or January 25, 1995! In addition, all the dead, if you look where they were killed, then no one died in ​​”Minutka” Square,” said Mykola Karpiuk’s lawyer, a Chechen Dokka Itslaev.

And the defendants’ relatives claim that they were at home at that time. Mykola Karpiuk’s brother Anatoliy Karpiuk tells us that in December 1994, their mother was ill, and his brother Mykola was taking care of her.

Tamara Klykh says that in 1994-95 her son was a student of Kyiv University. She also says that her son was a member of the UNA-UNSO for a short period of time and did not share radical views.

The relatives of both detained arrived in Grozny to testify. But the trial was put off for an indefinite period, and they had to leave.

The indictment has more than 700 pages. The human rights center “Memorial” has examined and analyzed the document in detail. “Memorial” acknowledged Karpiuk and Klykh “political prisoners” and denied allegations of the investigation.

The only witness for the prosecution

All the prosecution is built on the testimony of one man – a citizen of Ukraine Alexandr Malofeev. He has several convictions in Russia – for robbery, carjacking, theft. In 2009 he was sentenced for the murder of a woman to 23 years in prison. Malofeev is physically sick. He has the 4th stage of HIV infection, hepatitis C and consumption. In 2014, he suddenly remembered that he had fought in Chechnya. His “confession” was widely replicated by the Russian state channels. He said that he had fought together with Arseniy Yatsenyuk (former Prime Minister), Tyahnybok brothers, Dmytro Yarosh (former head of “Right Sector”), Oleksandr Muzychko (member of “Right Sector), Dmytro Korchynskyi (former leader of UNA-UNSO) and others. Among other names, he mentioned Karpiuk and Klykh.

The main purpose of such testimony, according to the Ukrainian human rights activist and journalist Mariya Tomak, is not Karpiuk and Klykh but political leaders. The case includes a description of a battle in Grozny, on December 31, 1994. The investigator refers to Malofeev’s words, “From this battle, he remembers Yatsenyuk Arseniy Petrovych, who also fired from the” Kalashnikov “rifle, made about ten shots in the Russian servicemen, though he did not see whether he had killed one anyone or not, After the fight, Yatsenyuk was often among journalists, posed a lot, photographed, gave interviews.”

The last word

On May 17, 2016 pleadings were held and Karpiuk and Klykh had the final word. Hromadske TV published a video. Karpiuk tells the jury that he was tortured, and that he is not guilty.

“You may think that I have some anger, hatred, aggression toward those who persecute me? No, gentlemen, you’re wrong. I have prayed a lot of times and I am still praying – for all those who tortured me, blackmailed me with my son’s life, forcing me to perjury, for all those who judge, accuses me, and keeps me in captivity,” he said.

What’s next?

Now 12 jurors must decide whether Karpiuk and Klykh are guilty. 7 votes will be enough to reach a verdict. The jurors are the Chechens. They saw with their own eyes what happened in Grozny. And who fought.

It should not be long before the verdict is reached.