Why is the Kremlin taking Ukrainian political hostages? | VIDEO

Crimea, International, Political prisoners, Ukraine

Dozens of Ukrainian citizens are now in Russian prisons for crimes they have never committed.

Russian authorities arrest them arbitrarily for participating in peaceful rallies outside Russia, defending rights of others or writing journalistic articles. They persecute Crimean Tatars based on ethnic origin and equate their practicing of Islam to terrorist activity. Using brutal violence, they force the political prisoners to admit their guilt for killing the people who died elsewhere or never existed at all.

But what makes Russia so eager to take Ukrainian hostages, torture them, humiliate their dignity, and imprison them for years and decades?

The Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has been sentenced to 20 years in Russian jail for resisting the occupation of his native Crimea. He is one of the 44 Ukrainian hostages of the Kremlin. The #LetMyPeopleGo campaign advocates for the release of all of them.

Read more: The Sentsov-Kolchenko case: what you need to know

In Russia and occupied Crimea, you may end up behind bars simply because you have a Ukrainian ID. No matter which views you hold: left, right, or even pro-Russian. But you’re at double risk if you have supported the Euromaidan revolution or you are Muslimlike the indigenous population of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars, who opposed Russian invasion. Now 19 Crimean Tatars are accused of terrorism, and the reason is that they are faithful Muslim believers.

Read more: 7 myths driving Russia’s assault against the Crimean Tatars

Результат пошуку зображень за запитом "letmypeoplego site:euromaidanpress.com"

What does Russia get of imprisoning these people?

  • First, Putin’s government persuades Russians that they at danger and need to be protected by a strong power from “spies,” “saboteurs,” and “terrorists”.
  • Second, it reinforces the Russian state media’s story of Ukraine as “Enemy #1” and switches Russia’s status from aggressor to victim in the time of the ongoing war.
  • Third, it makes residents of occupied Crimea fear their own country, Ukraine.
  • Also, the Russian security services create the illusion of their effective work but in fact oppress any dissent.

The imprisoned Ukrainians are the hostages of Russia’s undeclared war against Ukraine. Because of this, Russian authorities fabricate cases against them. It’s not hard: here are a few tools they apply.


Under torture, the semi-literate laborer from Donbas Serhiy Lytvynov “confessed” to murdering 48 civilians in Donbas, which was broadcast on state TV. Afterward, Russia canceled these charges as false but invented new ones and send him to serve 8,5-year sentence in the Far East.

Read more: Five unknown Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia

Falsification of the evidence

Ukrainians Stanislav Klykh and Mykola Karpiuk were accused of fighting in Chechnya in the mid-90s—at a moment and in the location where there was no warfare going on yet. They were imputed murdering thirty soldiers who were documented to have died elsewhere. Klykh and Karpiuk were brutally tortured: beaten, suffocated, electrocuted through genitals, kept without sleep and food for several days—and “confessed” to all the absurd they were incriminated.

Extension of the Russian jurisdiction where it never was

Russia accuses Ukrainians of taking part in the developments beyond its jurisdiction both in space and time:

  • Andriy Kolomiyets was sentenced to 10 years and Oleksandr Kostenko—to 3 years 11 months in jail for participating in the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv,
  • the Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz faces up to 15-year imprisonment for organizing a rally against the occupation of Crimea on 26 February 2014, before Russia formally annexed the Ukrainian peninsula.

Read more: Remember the Crimean Tatars jailed for resisting Russian occupation

Imprisoning journalists is convenient for Russia too

The Ukrainian correspondent Roman Sushchenko lived in Paris and wrote about Russia’s influence on France and Europe. He was arrested on a private visit to Moscow and accused of “spying” on fictitious charges.


As more than forty Ukrainian political prisoners remain in Russian custody, dozens of kids are left without parental care.

We should stop this. In 2016, global pressure on Moscow enabled the release of some Ukrainians: Nadiya Savchenko, Gennadiy Afanasyev, and Yuriy Soloshenko. We can release more.

Read more: Afanasyev and Soloshenko: How the FSB breaks prisoners

How can you help?

  • Tell your friends about the Kremlin’s hostages and #LetMyPeopleGo campaign,
  • Organize a demonstration in front of a Russian embassy,
  • Contact your politicians & media,
  • Ask Russian officials about Ukrainian prisoners at any chance,
  • Write letters of support to political prisoners.

Demand Russia let Ukrainians go home!

The video was produced by Euromaidan Press in the framework of #LetMyPeopleGo campaign advocating for the release of the Ukrainians illegally held in Russia and occupied Crimea. It was first demonstrated at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris during the international colloquium Cinémas d’insurrection (February 2017).

You can watch the video in English, French, and Ukrainian. If you want to be a volunteer and help with its translation into other languages, please contact us at [email protected].

Edited by: Ihor Vynokurov

Dear readers! Since you’ ve made it to this point, we have a favor to ask. Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine is ongoing, but major news agencies have gone away, which is why it's extra important to provide news about Ukraine in English. We are a small independent journalist team on a shoestring budget, have no political or state affiliation, and depend on our readers to keep going (using the chanсe - a big thank you to our generous supporters, we couldn't make it without you.)  If you like what you see, please help keep us online with a donation

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  1. Avatar Njordheim says:

    At present there two peoples in Ukraine: the first is completely anti-Russian, totally different from us in its mentality, and the second – Russian, even if the representatives of this group call themselves Ukrainians, due to upbringing and stereotypes. In reality, they are essentially deeply Russian people.

    The division is along the civilization-mentality lines, the same as between Serbs and Croats. Nevertheless, in the Kremlin as well as in the Moscow expert community the dominant view is that the majority of the Ukrainian population is just temporarily misled, brainwashed by the propaganda.

    That is to say, we will use political technologies to break the spell; they will again recall that they are Russians – and everything will be peaceful like it was before.

    1. Avatar Brent says:

      There’s one type of people in Russia. Mindless ratburger munching Buryat Mongols like yourself who have no real history and had to steal the history of the Kyivian Rus people and couldn’t even come up with their own identity because they are too stooopid to spell “Mongol”…….


      1. Avatar Njordheim says:

        More of your childish, idiotic posts?

        Even prior to USSR the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire Khvostov wrote to the Tzar that Galicia should not be included into the Empire, since it was a completely alien element. Thus, the awareness of the deep difference was present then, and that difference should be taken into account in the future.

        Easter Ukraine cannot stand UkrNaZZI form the West and you should know that. When you cross Dnepr river, on the other bank not everyone, but the majority looked like a different nation.

        1. Avatar Brent says:

          “NO BRAINS”, no one cares what some idiotic Russian thought about Ukraine’s territorial integrity back then in the days of your beloved USSR, and no one gives a f*ck what the Kremlin Mafia of today wants to impose on Ukraine today.

          You’re one of the mindless reject sheeple still spouting the same old Kremlin lies and propaganda that were proven to be bullsh*t over two years ago.

          Three words for you….
          1) Go
          2) F*ck
          3) Yourself


        2. Avatar Andrew Chmil says:

          “Easter Ukraine” ??? 🙂

          ***SERBIAN*** NOT KNOWA THE ANGLISH! :))

          Too mucha MEDICATIONS? 😉

          No EDUCATION & Too mucha MEDICATIONS? 😉

          A LYING, COWARDLY IDIOT!!! …. SERBIAN !!! :)))

    2. Avatar RedSquareMaidan says:

      Was the Holodomor, propaganda? How about the invasion of the Crimea and Donbas? How about the theft, rape, kidnapping, torture and murder of Ukrainians?
      There will be peace when the ruSSia begins to care about its own people.
      Red Square Maidan cannot come soon enough.

      1. Avatar Njordheim says:

        You are from Western Ukraine, right?

        USSR was strongly Anti-Russian and geared towards sawing the division that exists and shows today. Even prior to USSR the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire Khvostov wrote to the Tzar that Galicia should not be included into the Empire, since it was a completely alien element. Thus, the awareness of the deep difference was present then, and that difference should be taken into account in the future.

        Easter Ukraine cannot stand UkrNaZZI form the West and you should know that. When you cross Dnepr river, on the other bank not everyone, but the majority looked like a different nation.

        The inhabitants of the Western Ukraine were strongly influenced mentally and religiously by the Uniate and Catholic religions. Apparently, the fact that genetically the Western Ukrainians are linked to the leftovers of the Khazar Khanate also plays a significant role.

        Their mentality has a complex origin, and indeed today they are largely a different nation, although among them there are still people close to us in spirit. After all, the Russianness is not determined by the blood but by the mindset.

        Possibly, in the future there will be two different territories, two different states for these two peoples.

        1. Avatar Brent says:

          Blah blah blah….you sounded more intelligent when you bleated “BANDERA!!! BANDERA!!! BANDERA!!!”

        2. Avatar Andrew Chmil says:

          Don’t you ***SERBIAN*** mental cases have anything better to do except sucking Finno-Ugric mongolia @SS ???

          At least the Russo-mongolian TROLLS get paid to lie!!!

          You SERB scum are just MENTAL CASES!!! — AMAZING!
          Hope the COATS beat the sh*t out of your scum kind again!!!

          You are DESPERATELY trying to get Ukrainian attention eh you **SERB** trash?

    3. Avatar Andrew Chmil says:

      There is no “WE” for you, you ***SERBIAN*** @sskisser of Ruski !! :)))

      Even the Ruski trolls don’t like you … no matter HOW MUCH your *SERBIAN* mentally ill LOUD MOUTH sucks up to them!!! :)))

      MENTAL CASE!!! :)))