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“Beaten and Tortured With a Stun Gun”: Invaders Kidnap Former Captain To Be Illegally Tried in Crimea

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At the end of July, Russians kidnapped Oleksiy Kyseliov in the occupied port city of Henichesk, Kherson Region. After being tortured to obtain a confession, the man was taken to Crimea, where the FSB falsely accused him of involvement in a Crimean Tatar battalion. Oleksiy is now in the Simferopol pre-trial detention center; the fabricated case could result in him spending 15 years in a penal colony.

Oleksiy Kyseliov was born in Baku but has lived almost his entire life in Crimea. From 1997 to 2001, he was the commander of the Ukrainian Navy spy ship Slavutych and received the rank of reserve Captain 1st rank. Later, he became a deputy of the Sevastopol City Council, engaged in business and volunteer work, and actively supported the Euromaidan.  

Oleksiy’s son Artem said that after the occupation of Crimea, his father left Sevastopol, but moved nearby, to Kherson Region, Henichesk, to be closer to his mother, who did not want to leave the peninsula. As he settled in a new place, he continued to volunteer and participate in local pro-Ukrainian events through public organizations, including his own Pereselenets SOS NGO. 

According to Artem, the Russians captured Henichesk on the first day of the full-scale war. His father called him at about six o’clock in the morning to tell him that the city had already been occupied. Battles were underway near Kherson and Melitopol, and explosions were heard in Henichesk as well. Artem said it was dangerous to leave during the first days of the occupation. 

Subsequently, the invaders set up checkpoints in the city and began hunting for Ukrainian soldiers capable of resisting. One of the main sources of information was documents from law enforcement agencies, in particular the SBU, the prosecutor’s office, and the police, which kept records of combat participants. Also, the Russian military had photos from pro-Ukrainian events, which they used to search for organizers and participants. It was only a matter of time before the invaders paid a visit to his father for this reason, said Artem. 

The invaders kidnapped Oleksiy on the afternoon of July 22. He was on his way to the office of the Kherson regional organization of the Red Cross Society when an SUV stopped in front of him on the street. Balaclava-wearing unidentified individuals got out of the car, hit him, and pushed him into it. They tied his hands, put a bag over his head, and took him to his house to be searched. 

Artem did not know whether the Russians have visited his father before, and added that even if they did, he would not say so that the family would not worry unnecessarily. 

“After losing contact with my father on the 22nd, I received a phone call from an acquaintance on the 24th telling me he had been detained. Due to the unknown number, I asked my friends to go check on him. When they arrived, the neighbors told them that there had been a search, that people in masks were turning over everything,” said Artem. 

After the search, Oleksiy was taken for interrogation to the building of the local college, where the Rosgvardiya base was set up. There, he was tortured, electrocuted, and demanded to confess to his cooperation with the Ukrainian military and to show him the place where the local Territorial Defense weapons were supposed to be stored. 

On July 27, Kyseliov was taken to the administrative boundary line with Crimea and handed over to the local FSB officers. In Simferopol, interrogations with beatings and stun guns continued. Two days later, on July 29, the local court detained Oleksiy for two months. According to Artem, his grandmother managed to see his father, but the visit lasted just for a few minutes while Oleksiy was being taken out of the police car. Bruises covered his face and his legs were swollen. This was also confirmed by Oleksiy Ladin, Kyseliov’s lawyer in Crimea. 

“Currently, his condition is more or less fine. He was detained, kidnapped in Henichesk on July 22, and tortured for several days, so his legs are still swollen, and his chronic illnesses have gotten worse. In addition to being an elderly man, the conditions in the detention center affect his health as well,” the lawyer added. 

Officially, Oleksiy Kyseliov is charged with Part 2 of Article 208 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, namely participation in the Noman Çelebicihan volunteer Crimean Tatar battalion. The unit was created in 2016 during the blockade of the occupied peninsula, and its base was in the Kherson Region. Russia subsequently recognized the battalion as a terrorist group and banned its activities on its territory as of June 1. It is punishable by up to 15 years in a penal colony. 

Since 2014, according to the ZMINA Human Rights Center, the occupation authorities of Crimea have opened at least 11 cases for alleged participation in armed formations, and at least seven of the cases involve the already mentioned Noman Çelebicihan volunteer Crimean Tatar battalion. Three Russian citizens have already been convicted, and both have been sentenced to 10 years in a maximum-security prison. 

The Crimean Tatar Resource Center noted that the Noman Çelebicihan Battalion is, in fact, a public organization named Asker, which is engaged in patriotic education. Prohibition of its activities in occupied Crimea and Russia has been associated with the persecution of indigenous people, attempts to limit the development of public organizations, and another reason for repression. Simply put, the Russians needed a pretense for arrests and trials, and they found one.

“He is accused of providing the battalion with food as well as training its members about ship management. He did not supply any food and was not involved in the logistical support of the battalion. All accusations are fabricated, he does not plead guilty,” – the lawyer assured

The legitimate Crimean Prosecutor’s Office initiated criminal proceedings regarding the kidnapping of Oleksiy Kyseliov and his unlawful detention. The actions of the invaders were labeled war crimes, and an investigation was launched.

The presidential representative office in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea also responded to the kidnapping of the Ukrainian, calling on the international community to increase pressure on the aggressor country.

“All political persecution, repression, and illegal sentences in the temporarily occupied Crimea must cease immediately, and all perpetrators must be held accountable, which is impossible without the complete liberation of Crimea,” the representative office said. 

According to Artem, the family does not count on any justice from Russia and expects an exchange. He considers it to be the only way to bring Oleksiy home. 

“You can only get him out through an exchange fund, since Russian justice is nonexistent, as you may well know. He is in a pre-trial detention center now. He is charged with participation in a terrorist organization, which is up to 15 years in a max-security facility. And since such colonies are located far in the East, it is better for him to be in Simferopol during this period”, said Artem and added that his father’s inclusion in the exchange list is in progress. 

Olha Ivlieva

This article was produced by Bihus.Info as part of the program “Supporting Ukraine’s Regional Media in Times of War” with the financial support of the European Union and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Norway. The content is the sole responsibility of Bihus.Info and does not reflect the views of the European Union, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

Orikhiv, nicknamed the "tough nut" by the Russians because its name means "nut" in Ukrainian, is shelled every day by the Russians. Here you can see ruined houses and apartments everywhere, burned cars and garages, mutilated yards, and vegetable gardens - a picture that has unfortunately become almost commonplace for Ukrainians over the past five months. Bihus.Info talked to residents of Orikhiv who live under constant shelling on the frontline.

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