International Initiative for Peace
International Initiative for Peace
Site Navigation

Larissa Schesler, Union of Political Prisoners and Refugees from Ukraine

30 October 2023

Ukraine has become a tool of NATO, with the help of which Western countries decided to destroy Russia. A brutal nationalist regime has been established in Ukraine. This regime is masquerading as liberal democracy. The leadership of Western countries approves and supports this lie. Today, civil society in Europe and throughout the world knows nothing about the terror that the Ukrainian government has launched against people who do not share the views of nationalists.

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif said that a year and a half after the start of the conflict, the world continues to receive evidence of “egregious and ongoing violations of human rights.” She noted that we are talking about a wide range of violations on both sides. In particular, Al-Nashif reported that in the territory controlled by Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities opened about 6,000 criminal cases for collaboration (on charges of cooperation with the Russian Federation) and continue to issue a large number of convictions in these cases. Let’s look at the court and prosecutor’s materials on these cases.

We see that these charges include ordinary people who continued to carry out their work in the territory after the transition to Russian control. They came under pressure of repression after the Russian army left these territories. Thus, workers of a rural community in the Kherson region, who distributed humanitarian aid and provided social benefits to the disabled and pensioners, were sentenced to 8 and 13 years in prison with complete confiscation of property.

A fire service employee in the Donetsk region was sentenced to 12 years in prison; a railway guard in Kherson, a gas service worker in the Kharkov region, and a teacher in the city of Kupyansk were sentenced to long terms. They are considered criminals because they remained in their jobs when Russia began to control these territories. In Nikolaev, two women were arrested, employees of an energy company, who spoke positively about Russia in a personal telephone conversation.

This conversation was recorded by the Ukrainian intelligence service, and this recording is the only manifestation of their crime. Now they face long prison sentences. According to the new Ukrainian laws, participation in referendums organized by the Russian authorities in new territories entails especially severe punishments. Ukrainian courts impose between 6 and 12 years in prison for these actions. Referendums are one of the most democratic procedures, and even if the results of these referendums are not recognized by other countries, participation in them cannot be considered a crime. However, in Ukraine, hundreds and thousands of ordinary citizens have been declared criminals by ordinary citizens only for participating in these referendums and assisting in their organizations. According to Ukrainian laws, a positive attitude towards the Soviet Union is considered a serious crime. The head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinsky, gives the example of Kiev resident Yuri Pokrass, who is about 70 years old, who was sentenced to one and a half years of real prison time with complete confiscation of property for congratulating him on Facebook on Komsomol Day and the anniversary of the USSR. We believe that this is an example of outright totalitarianism.

Thus, it is not the heads of Russian administrations, law enforcement officials or military commandant’s offices who are sentenced to heavy punishments, but ordinary ordinary Ukrainians who worked as ordinary performers – teachers, security guards, doctors, rescue and utility workers. At the same time, we do not hear a single word of condemnation of the Ukrainian authorities from the leaders of European states. Experts who have studied the materials of the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office and Ukrainian courts claim that more than 50 thousand criminal cases have been opened in Ukraine on similar charges. It is clear why the vast majority of those convicted of collaboration are elderly.

In the Nikolaev prison, one-third of the prisoners charged with political articles are women, half of the prisoners are over 60 years old. One of these cases is the criminal case against me and my comrades, who took part in protests against Euromaidan in 2014. Now this case has been reopened and is being considered in the court of the city of Nikolaev, and under the article charged to me, I face up to 11 years in prison. I am sure that the participants in this forum should know about the totalitarian dictatorship that was created in Ukraine, and which is supported by the leadership of Western countries and NATO.