23 political prisoners that parliament set free on Feb. 24

By on February 26, 2014
The 23 political prisoners that parliament set free

On Feb. 24, parliament passed a bill to free 23 political prisoners. Eight are members of far-right groups believed to have been persecuted for their political beliefs. Five were anti-drug trafficking activists, one a lawyer to a member of a traffic police watchdog, another is an artist, and four were put in prison for allegedly setting a courthouse on fire. Two others are a father and son who were convicted of killing a judge but whose supporters say were innocent and framed. Another political prisoner is a student who apparently stabbed three police officers in what activists say was a fabricated case. Another was convicted of shooting a police major despite eye witness reports to the contrary.

The following are the names of those who will be set free and a brief description of their cases:

Vitaliy Zaporozhets was given a 14-year prison sentence for shooting a police major to death during a dispute in a village in the Brovarsky district of Kyiv Oblast. Eye witness accounts said the police officer, Mykola Symonenko, was drunk and that Zaprozhets was innocent. A lawyer by profession, Zaporozhets is an Oleksiy Hrinyk prize laureate, an award given to those who give concessions to or whose systemic activity benefits the Ukrainian nation or state.

Volodymyr Shpara has been dubbed one of the three “Vasylkiv Terrorists” because authorities convicted them for plotting to blow up a Lenin monument which had already been dismantled. He is the local commander of the local chapter of Patriot of Ukraine in Vasylkiv, Kyiv Oblast, a right-wing group. He is married and has two children and has been in prison for more than two years while serving a six-year sentence. He was convicted for terrorism in January after which former Interior Minister Yuri Lutsenko was beaten by riot police outside the courtroom.

Serhiy Bevz is the second of the three so-called “Vasylkiv Terrorists” who was convicted in January for plotting to blow up a Lenin statue that didn’t exist. He is a Vasylkiv city council member, and high ranking member of Social National Assembly and Patriot of Ukraine, two far-right groups. He is married and has a two-year-old son.

Ihor Mosiychuk, a Vasylkiv city council member and high ranking member of the Social National Assembly, was convicted in January of terrorism along with Bevz and Shpara for allegedly plotting to blow up a Lenin statue that didn’t exist. He is married and has a nine-year-old daughter.

Andriy Biletsky is the leader of Patriot of Ukraine, a far-right group. He was arrested in December 2011 for his alleged involvement in a shootout with well-known Ukrainophobe journalist Serhiy Kolesnyk. He also heads the Social National Assembly in Kharkiv, is married and has a son. Although he wasn’t present during the shootout with Kolesnik, he was arrested as an accomplice. In November 2011, he was shot at near the entrance of the apartment block he lives. One bullet struck his jaw, the other hit his arm. He drove himself to the hospital where he had two operations on his arm and the two bullets removed. He was never convicted but kept in a pre-trial detention center in Kharkiv located inside a larger prison complex.

Ihor Mykhailenko is a high-ranking member of Patriot of Ukraine in Kharkiv who was arrested on Dec. 27, 2011 for allegedly shooting at journalist Serhiy Kolesnyk. During the Aug. 3, 2011 shootout, Kolesnyk allegedly injured Mykhailenko and fellow Patriot of Ukraine member Vitaliy Kniazhesky. As a result Kolesnyk was hospitalized for a brain injury and the police charged the two for attacking the journalist.

Vitaliy Kniazhesky was arrested on Dec. 27 for his involvement in a shootout with journalist Serhiy Kolesnyk, known for his dislike of far-right groups. Kniazhesky, single, is a member of Patriot of Ukraine and is from Izium, Kharkiv Oblast.

Vitaliy Prymenko of Kyiv is the co-founder of right-wing group Tryzub and was arrested on Sept. 28, 2011 for allegedly plotting a terrorist act. He spent 19 months in a pre-trial detention center in Artemivsk, Donetsk Oblast before being sentenced to six years and six months in prison. He has a son and is married.

Dmytro and Serhiy Pavlychenko were sentenced to life and 13 years in prison as the father and son who allegedly murdered a Kyiv judge in 2011. Police insisted they convicted the right people, while the Pavlychenkos maintain they were framed and are innocent. Dmytro Pavlychenko, 50, and Serhiy Pavlychenko, 21, exhausted all their appeals in Ukrainian courts in January and are serving their sentences in Chernihiv and Kharkiv Oblasts, respectively.

Dmytro Pavlychenko (left), 50, and his son Serhiy Pavlychenko, 21, acknowledge supporters during an Aug. 1 Kyiv Appellate Court ruling that upheld their conviction of murdering a judge on March 21, 2011.
Anton Boiko is one of four who was convicted for allegedly setting ablaze a courthouse in Melitopol, Zaporizhya Oblast, including a district prosecutor’s office. Arrested on Sept. 19, 2011, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Anton Shamov is one of four who was convicted for allegedly setting ablaze a courthouse in Melitopol, Zaporizhya Oblast, including a district prosecutor’s office. He was given a three-year prison sentence.

Dmytro Svitanko is one of four who was convicted for allegedly setting ablaze a courthouse in Melitopol, Zaporizhya Oblast, including a district prosecutor’s office. He was given a five-year, six-month prison sentence.

Oleksandr Radolov is one of four who was convicted for allegedly setting ablaze a courthouse in Melitopol, Zaporizhya Oblast, including a district prosecutor’s office. He sentenced to six years in prison.

Vladyslav Popovych is one of the five so-called “Nizhyn Robin Hoods” who fought against drug dealing in Nizhyn, Chernihiv Oblast. They were convicted of committing serious crimes, including banditry, involving five victims, all of whom they alleged were local drug dealers. Popovych was given eight years in prison.

Rustam Urazheldiev is one of the five so-called “Nizhyn Robin Hoods” who fought against drug dealing in Nizhyn, Chernihiv Oblast. He was given nine years in prison.

Serhiy Yarmolenko is one of the five so-called “Nizhyn Robin Hoods” who fought against drug dealing in Nizhyn, Chernihiv Oblast. He was given a 10-year, six-month prison sentence.

Andriy Bondarenko is one of the five so-called “Nizhyn Robin Hoods” who fought against drug dealing in Nizhyn, Chernihiv Oblast. He was sentenced to 10 years and four months.

Anatoliy Popovych is the leader of the so-called “Nizhyn Robin Hoods” who fought against drug dealing in Nizhyn, Chernihiv Oblast. He was sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison.

Ihor Hannenko is a university student from Sumy Oblast who was given a one-year, eight-month prison sentence for painting a portrait resembling ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s face on a wall with a red dot on his forehead.

Viktor Smaliy was arrested on Dec. 9 for allegedly trying to assassinate a judge in his chambers. He was allegedly tortured while in prison. He is the lawyer of traffic police watchdog activist Andriy Dzyndza who faced criminal charges, but was released.

Oleh Odnorozhenko is another Patriot of Ukraine member who was arrested for spurious charges. He is in prison in Kharkiv Oblast. He is considered the chief ideologue of the group.

Andriy Nalyvaiko is a university student suspected of attacking three police officers with a knife in Kherson on Jan. 27, one of whom died the next day. He insists that that night he and a friend were also attacked and reported the incident to the police, but instead he was arrested for the attacking the three officers.

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