Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 13.01.2019
The Russian Federation is conducting its war against Ukraine with exceeding barbarity. When Russians capture or abduct Ukrainians who are wounded or ill, they torture them by denying them essential medicine and appropriate medical care. These Russians are committing war crimes.
Representatives of the illegal Russian occupation regime in Crimea, Ukraine abducted a Ukrainian citizen, Edem Bekirov, on 12 December 2018. He was crossing from Kherson oblast to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea within Ukraine when the Russians took him captive. Edem Bekirov is a Crimean Tatar – a member of a persecuted minority in Russian-occupied territory. Using illegitimate Russian laws against a Ukrainian citizen within Ukraine, the Russians are charging Edem Bekirov with terrorism offences. There is no substance to these charges, but that doesn’t matter in the Russian Federation and the territory it occupies like Crimea – these are places where there is no rule of law.
Edem Bekirov is severely disabled. He has diabetes and has recently suffered a heart attack. He has undergone heart surgery. Complications from diabetes have required him to have one of his legs amputated and he’s still in recovery from that operation. Given the gravely weakened condition of Edem Bekirov, the charge that he transported and stored heavy boxes of ammunition and containers of explosives is ridiculous. More immediately, his unjust detention while he is critically ill means he could die. His wife, Gulnara, issued an urgent appeal: “I beg you: help save Edem. Keeping my husband in prison means a de-facto death sentence for him.” On January 11, the United Kingdom and the European Union officially demanded the Russian Federation provide necessary medical care for Edem Bekirov. Medical assistance in detention is a fundamental human right.
Pavlo Hryb (on photo) was lured by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation to Homel, Belarus where he was abducted and spirited across the international border into the Russian Federation. Pavlo Hryb is a student a the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and is the youngest hostage being held by the Putin regime. He requires specialized medical treatment for a chronic blood condition. Since his unlawful detention began on 24 August 2017, Pavlo Hryb has been denied necessary medication and prevented from seeing Ukrainian doctors.
On January 10, the EU spokesperson for foreign affairs, Maja Kocijancic, issued a statement demanding that Pavlo Hryb, Edem Bekirov, and the crew of the vessels captured by the Russian Federation on 25 November 2018 must be immediately released. The EU stated that Pavlo Hryb and Edem Bekirov must receive appropriate medical care.
Some of the 24 Ukrainian Navy sailors who were taken captive by the Russian Federation’s act of war in on November 25 were wounded. They were taken – illegally – to the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention facility. The Russians did this even though the captured Ukrainian combatants are prisoners of war and are entitled to the protections of the Third Geneva Convention.
The human rights ombudsman for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Liudmyla Denisova, reported that wounded Ukrainian POWs have not been given any medication since the beginning of 2019. “At the same time, they still require treatment, support, rehabilitation, and some actions on the part of the doctors,” said Denisova.
Three Ukrainian Navy personnel were wounded in the Russian attack. All 24 have declared themselves prisoners of war.
The Russian Federation is at war with Ukraine, but even in undeclared war there are rules of conduct that civilized nations follow. The Russians who torture Ukrainian captives by denying them medical treatment are committing a war crime.