On 10 August 2016, Russia’s FSB announced that the special services of the Russian Federation detained a Ukrainian citizen Yevhen Panov, a bus driver from Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in occupied Crimea.
Two days earlier, Russian military equipment was concentrated on the border with mainland Ukraine. Russia closed its border checkpoints without explanation.
After several days of silence, the Russian FSB announced that it allegedly prevented terrorist acts by Ukrainian intelligence and eliminated an “agent network of Ukrainian and Russian citizens”. Allegedly, one of the organizers was Yevhen Panov.
On 10 August, Russian TV channels showed a news piece where people in black masks with FSB signs guided Yevhen Panov through a corridor. He had visible signs of injuries on his body. This video explicitly shows that Panov was subjected to physical abuse and possibly torture.
On 11 August, the FSB published the video of the interrogation. Evgenii Panov showed additional bodily injuries. The character of the injuries (swollen face and lips, heavy breathing) gives ground to assume that he was strangled with a plastic bag. It is also notable that he pronounced a pre-agreed text, which is indirectly confirmed by the number of cuts in the video. It is likely that they had to re-film some of the answers.
According to the words of Panov’s relatives, Yevhen went on a holiday with friends within Zaporizhzhia Oblast on 6 August and was going to return no later than the morning of the 8th. They say Yevhen was well aware of the threat of staying in the occupied territory and would not enter Crimea as he had planned with his wife to have a child in the near future. Yevhen served more than a year as a volunteer in the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone. On his return home, he worked as a driver, was involved in the executive committee of the local council and volunteered. His relatives believe that he might have been kidnapped from the territory of mainland Ukraine and illegally relocated by the FSB agents to the occupied territory. At their request, the Ukrainian police brought criminal proceedings under the article “false imprisonment or kidnapping.”
Kidnapping and false charges of “terrorist activities” – a basic FSB method
The scenario of kidnapping Ukrainian citizens and bringing trumped-up charges of terrorist activities against them have repeatedly been used by the Russian special services for propaganda purposes. It is worth recalling that Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko was also kidnapped and illegally brought to the territory of Russia. Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years on false charges of terrorism while Ukrainian tractor driver Serhiy Lytvynov was absurdly accused of using prohibited means and methods of warfare, for which the Russian Attorney General’s Office eventually had to apologize.
As the experience of Ukrainian citizens detained in Russia and occupied Crimea demonstrates, only wide publicity and control of the international community can become a kind of prevention against torture and ill-treatment.
Euromaidan SOS draws attention of the international community to the need to monitor the case of Yevhen Panov, together with the cases of Andriy Zakhtiy and Ridvan Suleimanov, to ensure unhindered access of independent lawyers to provide expert legal assistance, as well as access of international organizations and human rights defenders to verify detainees’ state of health and detention conditions.
Euromaidan SOS calls on the Russian Federation to publicly announce the names of the other people arrested to prevent torture and ill-treatment during their investigation.
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