Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 31.01.2019
The Russians are denying medical care to Pavlo Hryb and he may die. An all-out diplomatic effort is underway to save his life, but the Putin regime that holds the Ukrainian student hostage is deaf to all entreaties. This unconscionable moral outrage is sadly typical of the way the Russian Federation conducts its war against Ukraine, now entering its sixth year.
Pavlo Hryb is a student at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. For reasons known only to the Putin regime, he was lured by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) to Homel, Belarus on 24 August 2017. There he was abducted, tortured, and dragged across the border into the Russian Federation – almost certainly with the collusion of Belarusian authorities. After being ‘disappeared’ for weeks, the Russians emerged with a story that Pavlo Hryb had been arrested in the Russian Federation and they laid trumped-up ‘terrorist’ charges against him.
As is usual with Ukrainian political prisoners being held hostage by the Russians, Pavlo Hryb is never brought to trial but goes through prolonged pre-trial detentions.
The now-20-year-old student suffers from a rare blood disorder, for which he needs specialized medical treatment. Pavlo Hryb’s Russian captors have denied him access to competent medical professionals. The Russians are torturing him to death by denying him essential medication and competent care.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is leading a world-wide effort to get Pavlo Hryb released, and if not that at least to get him proper medical attention. Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, sent the following tweet on January 30: “Health of Kremlin's youngest political prisoner #PavloHryb is critical. Disease is dangerously progressing. In a few days [the Russian Federation] will stage new Kafkaesque trial case. I urge to put more pressure on RU, so that he receives proper medical treatment. Prison will simply kill him #FreeHryb”
The Russian Federation refused to grant consular access to the Ukrainian citizen it is holding hostage. This is a violation of Article 13 of the Consular Convention between Ukraine and the Russian Federation of 15 January 1993.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv joined the effort to save Pavlo Hryb. Taking to Twitter on January 30, the Americans said: “We are deeply concerned by recent reports about the health of Ukrainian #PavloHryb. Russia must provide appropriate medical care to the Ukrainians it unjustly detains and should release all Ukrainian political prisoners immediately.”
Ukraine’s ambassadors to Austria and to the EU, Olexander Scherba and Mykola Tochytskyi, sent poignant appeals to free Pavlo Hryb. But the Acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, Dr. Ulyana Suprun, said it succinctly when she introduced a tweet by saying: “If Pavlo is sent to prison, he will simply die."
A pre-condition of any dealings with Russians must be that they stop torturing hostages to death by denying them medical treatment. Until then: no truck, no quarter to the moral monsters who are waging unlimited war against Ukraine.