Ukrainian experts urge to sign a statement of protest against detention of scientists in Crimea


The FSB detained three scientists in Crimea on November 9 and claimed these were “subversives from Ukraine” planning a terroristic attack on the peninsula.  

Expert community encourages colleagues around the world to support the protest against the detention of Dmytro Shtyblikov, Oleksiy Bessarabov and Volodymyr Dudka, who were recently detained in Crimea and accused of espionage. All charges that the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) incriminates to the detained are fabricated and politically motivated. “This is not only violation of human rights but also a challenge to the entire expert community. We express our fundamental protest against such actions,” claimed Maksym Mayorov, expert of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Nomos Center experts have prepared a statement translated into several languages. It has been signed by over 90 prominent journalists, political analysts, and civil society activists from 10 countries – Canada, the UK, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Armenia and Azerbaijan. “This statement will be published in the media and posted on websites. You can enter the e-mail that will be placed on these resources, and join the signatories,” added Mr. Mayorov.

Mykhailo Honchar, president of the Center for Global Studies “Strategy XXI”, reminded that the Nomos Center had been founded in 2003 in Sevastopol by a group of former civil servants and military servicemen to research issues of the region. The Center operated until 2014 and issued its own periodical. “Our work was of open public nature without any aspects that they are ascribing to us now. Undoubtedly, the name of the center reflected its strategic orientation, but it was not concealed,” he said. He noted that the Russian media are spreading false information that the Nomos had branches in Western and Central Ukraine though, in fact, besides the center in Sevastopol there was only energy programs administration of the Centre in Kyiv.


We cannot believe any admissions of the detainees

Natalia Belitser, expert of the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, appealed to the future signatories to stress that we cannot trust any confessions of the detainees that may appear later. “We already know about the NKVD [ People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, active in the USSR – UCMC] and Gestapo [Geheime Staatspolizei, or the Secret State Police, official secret police of the Nazi Germany – UCMC] methods used there from the people who lived through it. There is torture which man cannot endure,” she stressed. Natalia Belitser added that the detainees are held incommunicado, they are not allowed to see any lawyers or relatives.

Experts also proposed to create an organization that would help the families of the Kremlin prisoners.


The only effective method of pressure is new sanctions against Russia

Mykhailo Honchar emphasized that this issue should be the focus of attention not only in Ukraine but also abroad. “Despite unfavorable foreign policy situation, it is necessary to talk about tougher sanctions against Russia and prevention of its return to the Council of Europe. This is our principled stand,” he stated. “There have been many declarations, recommendations and resolutions, but Russia disregards all of them. Only tougher sanctions can stop this flywheel of repressions,” added Natalia Belitser.


Arrest of Nomos experts implied start of repressions against the expert community

According to Ms. Belitser, this case signals that now the whole expert community is “at the gunpoint”, no matter what these people do. The purpose of these repressions is to turn the potential opponents of the self-proclaimed authorities out of Crimea. She added that this factor should be taken into account in Ukraine’s strategy on Crimea.


Repressions will be intensified

Mykhailo Honchar suggested that the experts have been arrested to replace the failure of Yevgen Panov’s case with this new high-profile case. “It is intended for the domestic Russian and Crimean audiences to show that “the enemy is on the watch.” In his view, such arrests of “disloyal” persons will continue to mobilize society by the fear of internal or external enemy. He suggested that the religious minorities, in particular, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be the next target. For example, “Forpost” (former “Sevastopolskye news”) states that “members of city  churches have submitted 15 thousand signatures to the Prosecutor General of Russia asking to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses,” that the FSB has noted “a negative impact of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the life of Sevastopol,” and the chief doctor of the Sevastopol psychiatric hospital commented that “though Jehovah’s Witnesses have not yet been recognized the extremist organization, there are reasonable grounds for this as they pose a direct threat to life and health of many people.” “Diversionists will be most likely uncovered just in this environment. A court file is almost ready,” noted Mykhailo Honchar.

Natalia Belitser expressed concern that if this bullying tactics has no effect on the internal audiences, the FSB may resort to the worst provocations. “If Crimean people demonstrate that they do not believe in “Ukrainian diversionists” and they are not intimidated by this, the FSB will resort to the methods tested in 1999 – she noted. – All those who have contacts with Crimeans should convey the following message to them: be as careful as the inhabitants of the multistoried building in Ryazan who prevented the FSB terrorist attack.”

To remind on November 10, the FSB stated that on November 9, they had arrested “the members of subversive and terrorist group from the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine” Dmytro Shtyblikov, Oleksiyi Bessarabov and Volodymyr Dudka in Sevastopol. By the decision of the Leninsky District Court of Sevastopol they are arrested for two months. Today, the FSB released a video of interrogation of detainees, where they are admitting their intelligence activities in Crimea.

Related to this -> Ukraine’s Defense Ministry refutes it’s subversives detained in Crimea.