One more Putin’s prisoner

If you’ve ever written at least one negative article or comment condemning Putin’s aggressive politics and his KGB-style regime, you shouldn’t go to Russia! You risk becoming a spy and a new prisoner of the FSB. This is exactly what happened with the Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko, who had arrived to Moscow last Friday to visit his close relatives. That day became a ‘Friday from hell’ for him. The events that followed could be called a detective story.

He was detained in the middle of the day in Moscow by Russian Special Forces (obviously FSB), on charges of ‘espionage’. According to his lawyer, there’s no evidence that would prove his ‘spy’ activity. However, if you know of some recent stories about Ukrainian prisoners in Russia, you will understand that nothing stops the Kremlin. For instance, Ukrainian former pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who was charged and convicted of murder and illegally crossing Russian state border after in reality having been abducted from the Ukrainian territory by Russian security forces. Her story is well known. Another example — Yury Soloshenko, the 73-year-old Ukrainian pensioner, sentenced to 6 years in Russia on mystery ‘spying’ charges. These people were released thanks to the efforts of the international community. But how many Ukrainians and other citizens still remain political prisoners in Russia! Here are some of them: Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, Crimean activist Alexander Kolchenko, vice-president of ‘Medzhlis’ of Crimean Tatars Akhtem Chiyhoz and dozens of others.

Now we have new one — Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko. All of them criticized Putin’s aggression against Ukraine including annexation of Crimea.

Since Friday, Roman Sushchenko has been locked up in Lefortovo prison. In violation of all international rules, the first several days Russian authorities didn’t inform anybody about his detention — neither his wife nor consular, or Ukrinform. His wife Anzhela, who couldn’t contact with the husband for two days, got to know about the detention just on Sunday morning, after calling his relatives in Moscow. However, they were speaking very carefully, avoiding even the word ‘detained’. FSB forced them to sign a ‘non-disclosure obligation’ — a document, which prohibit to tell anybody what happened indeed.

In the evening of Sunday, his lawyer Mark Feygin (well known as an attorney of Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko) arrived at the Moscow-based Lefortovo facility to visit the detained Ukrainian journalist. The lawyer explained that he would protect Sushchenko at the request of the detainee’s wife and Ukrinform. He wasn’t allowed to visit Roman.

On Monday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) accused Mr.Sushchenko of being a Ukrainian Defense Intelligence officer. However, the main Ukrainian Defense Intelligence office in Kyiv immediately denied that, calling the accusation as yet another ‘fake’.

The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine has expressed its strong protest against charges against the Ukrainian journalist and named Roman as another ‘political hostage’ in Russia’s hybrid aggression against Ukraine.

The Ministry also recommended all Ukrainian citizens to avoid visiting Russia.

Just on Tuesday attorney Mark Feygin was allowed to meet his client for 15 minutes. ‘Roman Sushchenko did not admit guilt,’ the lawyer said. Feygin informed he had read an order on initiation of criminal proceedings and called it ‘utter rubbish’. On Wednesday, the advocate again was not able to meet Roman during all the day. Just in the evening, he had a short conversation with his client. Russian authorities have not allowed even the Ukrainian consul to see the journalist, as of late this afternoon, Moscow time.

Roman is a foreign journalist of the Ukrinform News Agency in Paris. He also works with several other Ukrainian top media. He wrote a lot of articles about politics, sport, culture and other issues. Some of them were very inconvenience for Kremlin uncovering truth about pro-Russian forces in France, their activity on the occupied territory of Ukraine, and their ties with Kremlin. He always has been fighting for the truth, but for many it was uncomfortable.

Roman has an adult daughter who is also a journalist and a very young son. They don’t lose hope of seeing his father at home.

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