Relatives of Oleksiy Bessarabov reported abuse of power by the administration of Stavropol colony IK-1, as made public by President of the Centre for Global Studies Strategy XXI and chief editor of Black Sea Security journal Mykhailo Gonchar.

Oleksiy Bessarabov, a journalist from Sevastopol, editorial board member at Black Sea Security and former Ukrainian Navy Officer, was sentenced to 14 years in high-security prison in the so-called ‘saboteurs case’ framed up by the Russian Federal Security Service.

The colony administration ‘suddenly’ remembered that apart from 14-year sentence, Oleksiy had also to pay fine amounting to RUB 300,000 as ruled by the occupation ‘court’. On 22 July, deputy head of the colony, lieutenant colonel A. Temirdashev gave an ultimatum to the prisoner: pay RUB 300,000 and have no worries or be placed in solitary confinement. As a Ukrainian citizen, Oleksiy does not recognise jurisdiction of the Russian occupation and the ruling of the so-called court that sent him to prison.

It is also logically unacceptable for Oleksiy to pay anything to the budget of the aggressor state occupying Ukrainian territories. Oleksiy told the colony administration that the occupation that has treacherously invaded his native land, deprived him of his family, a roof over his head and liberty on trumped-up criminal charges and taken him against his will from the territory of his country, could not expect him to pay anything.

He will not pay a penny, since the money would be spent for aggression against Ukraine, for FSB and other Russian enforcement rascals. The fine is explained by necessity to compensate costs the occupation ‘relevant authorities’ incurred during investigation, i.e. the prisoner is expected to pay for framing up a case against him.

Oleksiy’s relatives point out that even the Russian law says that he cannot be fined, because he has no income. Oleksiy Bessarabov was arrested on 3 November 2016, and has had no opportunity to earn money since then. The only money he gets to his account is occasional transfers from the Consulate General of Ukraine in Rostov-on-Don. The colony administration is aware of this and insists on paying the fine from these funds. However, it is unacceptable for civic-minded Oleksiy to give money provided by Ukraine to the occupation.

Seven years ago, 26 July 2013, College of Europe, Warsaw.

Oleksiy Bessarabov is fourth from the left holding the Ukrainian flag.

Unbroken Oleksiy Bessarabov from Sevastopol keeps asserting his rights despite tortures. His voice opposing repressions will be heard, even if he is placed in solitary confinement.

We cannot but respond to the information provided by relatives of Oleksiy, who remains an editorial board member at Black Sea Security. Of course, one could blame the colony administration for extortion. In fact, they just follow directions of the Russian repressive machinery from the central level. Ukraine’s lacking or untimely responses to violations of political prisoners’ rights provoke the aggressor to commit new crimes against humanity.

This includes new repressions against Crimean activists, and the environment of continual fear on the peninsula, as proved by the death of three-year-old Musa Suleymanov, the son of a Crimean Tatar political prisoner. New names have been added to the well-known cases of so-called Crimean ‘terrorists’, ‘extremists’, ‘saboteurs’ and ‘spies’.

The number of the Kremlin’s political prisoners in occupied Crimea has been increasing. According to Ukraine’s Ombudsman, there were 115 political prisoners in 2019, whereas this year the number has already reached 132. Only 11 persons have been released in the last few years — the balance is in the Kremlin’s favour.

It is obvious to former political prisoners and relatives of Putin’s hostages. Released political prisoners (Volodymyr Balukh, Mykola Karpiuk, Stanislav Klykh, Olexandr Kolchenko, Artur Panov, Oleg Sentsov, Roman Sushchenko, Oleksiy Sizonovych, Ilmi Umerov) are critical of the negotiation format that allows the aggressor to take new hostages in Crimea and employ repressions against the imprisoned.

26 July 2020, the Office of the President of Ukraine reported a telephone conversation between Zelensky and Putin. The Kremlin confirmed, but the Kremlin’s version does not mention a request of the Ukrainian side to free the father of deceased Musa Suleymanov.

It should be noted that Oleksiy Bessarabov, as well as another ‘saboteur’ Volodymyr Dudka, will defend their rights at all levels — the Kremlin does not control the European Court of Human Rights after all. We keep monitoring the case of ‘Sevastopol saboteurs’ Oleksiy Bessarabov, Volodymyr Dudka and Dmytro Shtyblykov.