Did I miss something? Authorities in Ukraine, a country seeking closer association with the European Union and swearing allegiance to human rights and democratic values, arrested a man. The next day, lurid photos of the man – naked, bearing scratches, and hands tied – appeared on the Facebook and Twitter pages of the leader of a Ukraine radical party, who says he plans to exchange him for the ousted president Yanukovich.
And through all of this, a deafening silence out of Kiev.
The man in the photos is Igor Kakidzyanov, a “defence minister” of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk Republic” that has rejected Kiev’s authority and occupied public buildings in eastern Ukraine for the past month.
On May 6, 2014, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reported that a group of “separatists” attacked a vehicle of a special police unit traveling from the town of Mariupol. The police, according to the Ministry, killed one of the attackers and arrested two others, including Kakidzyanov.
On the morning of May 7, 2014, a spokesperson for the Social-National Assembly, a coalition of radical Ukrainian parties, told journalists that he was “personally interrogating” Kakidzyanov. A few hours later, Oleg Liashko, leader of the radical party and a presidential candidate, announced on his website and social media accounts that his team managed to capture a group of separatists, including Kakidzyanov. He posted the gruesome photos of Kakidzyanov – including one showing him hooded. “Would like to exchange Kakidzyanov to Yanukovich,” he said on Twitter.
How did this man, arrested by the police, end up in the hands of a radical party leader? Why have the Ukrainian authorities been silent and done nothing following Liashko’s posts?
If Kakidzyanov was involved in criminal acts, he should be detained, and, following a proper investigation, prosecuted in accordance with Ukrainian and international law. If he is indeed in the hands of Liashko, he is also a victim of kidnapping and mistreatment, and Liashko should face criminal responsibility for his actions
I spent a few hours trying to reach someone in the Ministry of Interior, prosecutor’s office, National Security Council, Ministry of Justice, and other governmental institutions. I called a few dozen numbers, but nobody picked up. I desperately searched for any sign of official reaction to this blatant violation of local and international law – but found none.
I hope Ukraine’s international counterparts, including the EU and US governments, have better luck reaching out to the Ukrainian authorities. I also hope they explain to them in no uncertain terms that such treatment of detainees is unacceptable, and that they need to immediately return Kakidzyanov to official custody, ensure his due process rights, and bring those responsible for this outrageous situation to account.