Beginning of the year in the self-proclaimed republics was marked by a series of high-profile arrests of civilians. Among them there are pro-Ukrainian activists, volunteers, as well as persons whose activities are seemingly unrelated to the active social position.
How to behave if you have been detained?
- First of all, do not panic. Keep a low profile. And if you've already imprisoned (as it is said here, "got to the basement"), and they’ve decided to quiz you, I recommend telling the truth. Do not avoid things that can hurt you now from your point of view. They still have to beat the truth out of you by all means. Brute force will be used against you, and you will tell everything. The faster you will tell the truth, the fewer physical effects will be applied to you. You may be detained either for a few hours, or for an indefinite period. There are some people who have been in captivity for more than a year.
What may you recommend to relatives of a detained person?
- First of all, no need to go into hysterics, and call anybody. I suggest having a seat and cooling down, taking a piece of paper and developing a plan of action. The first thing that should be in the plan of action is a kind of field work. You should collect the entire information on the fact of detention or abduction. That is, who has detained, how many men were there. It is very important when they are in a uniform with chevrons. Such marks will help to determine the place where your relative can be taken.
You should also apply to international organizations. In Donetsk and Luhansk there are the offices of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) which you should inform first. Also, do not disdain the message to the police of the self-proclaimed DPR and LNR. Submit them an application, call by phone, ask for an appointment in the commandant's office. Most of the people are detained by the so-called MGB (Ministry of the State Security of the self-proclaimed republics). They can hardly provide with any information, but no one will forbid you to call and ask whether such detention was in real. Plus, of course, you need to write a statement and submit it both to the police and to MGB.
I would recommend the next step not to men, but directly to women (mother, sister, wife, girlfriend) go to those buildings, ask to hand over some news, warm clothes, and food to the detainee. This will make him/her understand that you remember about him/her, you know where he/she is. It will also provide an opportunity to establish contact with people who can directly talk to the detainees, to convey some information, to find out the state of their health.
An important point is also the message to power structures of Ukraine on abduction of the person, taking him/her in a captivity. They are the police and the Security Service of Ukraine. What for? In order to declare in Minsk that there is a person - a citizen of Ukraine, and he/she is abducted. And if this person is an activist, or any public figure, it will be one of the pressure elements to release such a person. Tripartite negotiations among the OSCE, Ukraine and Russia are held in Minsk. So you should also address to the OSCE office in Donetsk and Luhansk. This can be done in writing or by telephone. They accept information by phone calls; they respond. Perhaps they may go to detained relatives and take any written evidences.
As to the Security Service of Ukraine and the police, you need to write a statement. It must be done in advance. After that I recommend you direct any your relative or friend to the territory controlled by Ukraine to the nearest department to sign these applications. Then a criminal case will be immediately opened in the Unified register on abduction.
The problem is that the information about the abductions and arrests does not come to Ukraine. It does not reach the Ukrainian Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There are no applications. No applications, no cases, accordingly. It has always been the case and will last in the near future in our bureaucratic country.
Maxim Prikhodko, "OstroV"
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