Russia sentences Ukrainian Pavlo Hryb to 6 years in prison

Russia’s North Caucasian district military court sentenced Ukrainian Pavlo Hryb to six years in a penal colony for ‘promoting terrorism’ on Froday, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reports. More than a year ago, the young man was abducted by Russian special services in the territory of Belarus.

Having heard the verdict, Hryb has launched a hunger strike, Ukrainian Hromadske TV reports.

“Mercy, humanity, dignity – these concepts are not known to the invader state, the aggressor state,” Klimkin wrote on Twitter. “Russian pseudo-judiciary sentenced the seriously ill Pavlo Hryb to six years in prison. I urge the civilized world to put pressure on the Russian Federation to ensure his speedy release,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Twitter.

The Ukrainian lawyers will appeal against the ruling and lodge a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Ihor Hryb, Pavlo’s father, told UNIAN. According to him, all legal mechanisms will be involved. The father stressed that Pavlo, whose health has significantly deteriorated, might not survive the prison term.

The European Union expects Mr Hryb to be immediately released and granted access to the special medical treatment he needs, Maja Kocijancic, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said on Friday. “For so long as he remains in detention, Ukrainian doctors must be allowed to see him as required by a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights,” the statement reads.

In August 2017, Pavlo Hryb went missing in the Belarusian city of Homiel. He was allegedly kidnapped by the Russian Federal security Service (FSB). As it emerged later, Russia blacklisted him as a ‘terrorist’ for his criticizing the Kremlin’s policy on the Internet. In Homiel he met with the 17-year-old girl from Sochi who later confessed that the FSB exerted pressure on her. Later, Pavlo Hryb was ‘found’ arrested in Russia’s Krasnodar.

After a massive public outcry and diplomatic note, the Belarusian State Border Committee admitted the fact of his border crossing on August 24 and said Hryb had not violated anything. According to a Krasnodar court, the arrest warrant was issued on August 17 (i.e., before Pavlo Hryb crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border), when he was put on the international wanted list. According to the Russian side, Hryb asked his acquaintance to go off a bomb at a school assembly in Sochi. Stating that the charge was forged, Pavlo pleads not guilty.

In early February, Ukraine’s human rights envoy Liudmyla Denisova said that Pavlo Hryb was on the verge of life and death. “The 20-year-old political prisoner needs urgent heart surgery because his state of health is supercritical,” she stressed.