Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 13.10.2017
“When LPR came the darkness covered everything.” – Vlad Ovcharenko
Vlad Ovcharenko is a captive of the Russians. He has been locked up in a dungeon, subject to inhumane treatment and torture, for more than a year. Journalist Julian Röpcke reported on his capture on 16 October 2016, noting that he had interviewed Vlad Ovcharenko in July of that year. News soon got out that Ovcharenko was being kept in a basement, and that he had gotten sick after his capture. For a year, his family has not been allowed to see him. He has no access to a lawyer. He has no access to any international humanitarian group. He been compelled to appear before secret proceedings in a sham court of justice. Vlad Ovcharenko’s name is on the list of detainees to go for the “all-for-all” prisoner exchange that is supposed to happen under the terms of the Minsk Agreements, but Russia refuses to adhere to any conditions of those agreements and Ovcharenko remains Russia’s hostage.
Vlad Ovcharenko is a Ukrainian patriot, and a proud native son of Luhansk. He was shocked when the Russians invaded in the spring of 2014, and disgusted when some local residents betrayed Ukraine and sided with them. He took to social media, but rather than write angrily as a young man might (he was 18 years old when Russia invaded Ukraine) he wrote observations about day-to-day life in Luhansk under Russian occupation. That life is grim, so he wrote about unemployment or about those who were lucky to have a job labouring under conditions of slavery. He wrote about the feeling of hopelessness young people have, and about how many had gone away as “internally displaced persons” to other parts of Ukraine, how some had gone into the Ukrainian army to fight in the “ATO,” and how a few had gone to the so-called “LPR” to get some cash as a contract soldier (mercenary) for the Russian invaders. The Russian occupation authorities – in the guise of the so-called “LPR” – accuse Vlad Ovcharenko of displaying a Ukrainian flag and of burning the flag of the so-called “LPR.” They accuse Ovcharenko of treason and now his family fears he will be illegally transported out of Ukraine to Russia by the terrorists, just like filmmaker and writer Oleg Sentsov was.
The so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” is a terrorist group created by Russia’s intelligence services that operates in the part of Luhansk region, Ukraine, that has been invaded and is now occupied by Russia. It’s figurehead is a previously unknown Luhansk gangster named Igor Plotnitsky, but the so-called ‘LPR” is an instrument of Vladimir Putin through his “grey cardinal” Vladislav Surkov. The so-called “LPR” is a criminal syndicate. The bribe money, the license to steal coal, and the weapons and ammunition all come from Putin in Moscow to Plotnitsky in Luhansk. On the ground in Luhansk, it is the foreigners from Moscow who give the orders. They’re at the top of the bribery pyramid, they’re the beneficiaries of profits from stealing coal from the mines of Donbas, and they command the cannon-fodder troops in the military formations of the so-called “LPR.”
Russian vengeance is cruel and it is complete. Agents of the Russian occupation regime harassed Vlad Ovcharenko physically while he was at liberty in Luhansk, they torture him now that he is their hostage, and they harassed his presence online. Russian trolls have mastered the technique of taking down the accounts of social media users by mass – and false – reporting of “abuse.” They did this against Vlad Ovcharenko. The Russians easily convinced the weak algorithm of Twitter that Vlad Ovcharenko’s tweets that were really observations of life in Luhansk, Ukraine were somehow targeted abuse against an identifiable group – namely, Russians. Twitter suspended Vlad Ovcharenko’s account @LUGANSKA_JUNTA and it remains that way to this day. From their head office in San Francisco, Twitter seems to have no idea that they are an accessory to the inhumane treatment and torture of a political prisoner of Russian occupation forces in Luhansk.
The Russians persecute Vlad Ovcharenko because he is loyal to Ukraine and will not betray his country. If there are Ukrainians in the secret court that will soon convict him of treason, it is they who are the traitors, for they are the ones siding with the foreign aggressors from Muscovy against their native land and people. The whole world must shout out for Vlad Ovcharenko to be freed. He is not as prominent a hostage of Russia, like filmmaker Oleg Sentsov or CrimeanTatar leader Ilmi Umerov or journalist Roman Sushchenko. But he’s a Ukrainian citizen who has fallen into the clutches of the brutal Putin regime just like them. That Ovcharenko rots in a dungeon in his home city of Luhansk because Russia invaded Ukraine is an outrage. Vlad Ovcharenko must be freed and Luhansk must be liberated.
Vlad Ovcharenko is a prisoner of Russia because he is a free man of Ukraine. He would not submit to become a slave to the invaders and occupiers of his homeland. On October 9, journalist Roman Bochkala wrote this about Vlad Ovcharenko: “But Vlad is hard. He has one Motherland – Ukraine.”