In Digest, Ukraine
By Union Borotba, April 28, 2015

In Mariupol, our comrade, communist Andrei Sokolov, is on trial. This winter, Andrei, a self-taught engineer, came to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) to help the country develop vital production. He stumbled upon a Ukrainian checkpoint and was taken prisoner.

He was detained on December 26 and charged on December 29. He is accused of “forming a terrorist organization” (art. 258-3 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code).

In the Mariupol detention center, the inmates have almost no food, and soldiers torture the prisoners.

Andrei is a staunch communist, an opponent of the Yeltsin and Putin regimes. In Russia, he spent a total of nine years in prison on political charges. At the same time, like any true leftist, he is an ardent supporter of the popular uprising in Donbass.

Andrei writes from jail: “Today was the first court session. It was held in Berdyansk Court (Judge O.G. Pakhomenko), but they did not even bring me there – it was a video conference. From the prison. They want to condemn me remotely! Tomorrow at 10 am is the next ‘session.’ I demanded an interpreter, they postponed the trial until tomorrow when he will arrive. And I will make a motion to receive a paid lawyer and be personally present at the trial. We need to contact the media to make the maximum publicity, as they want to quietly prosecute me for art. 258 (from 8 to 15 years) with a heap of false evidence and violations. Please help publicize this ‘Court of Justice’ as widely as possible”.

Help spread the word about this trial. Below is a letter he wrote from prison on January 30, 2015.

Translated by Greg Butterfield

* * *

My Captivity

By Andrei Sokolov, in prison in Mariupol, January 30, 2015 (letter in Russian original here)

What is the difference between captivity and arrest? Now I know it. That is, when you are arrested, you have the right for a lawyer, for a call to your family, for law observance. But when you are captured – you disappear for everybody. You are nowhere. You have the right only for cold, torture and disappearance to nowhere if you refuse to testify to military men. There is complete anonymity and impunity. And that is done by the state of Ukraine, not a criminal gang.

I was captured on December, 26, 2014 when I drove my car to an Ukrainian checkpoint near Gorlovka by mistake. I was driving from Donetsk to Gorlovka to my friend, an anarcho-communist, Egor. On December 4, I arrived to the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) for assistance to our comrades – communists and socialists – and for work at Donetsk plants. I am a worker, a gunmaker by profession. My experience was necessary for arming our comrades and helping the Republic in its struggle for independence. I am a Russian revolutionary, a communist. I have been taking part in political struggle since 1996. I was four times sentenced to imprisonment for radical politics and for weapons manufacturing. I am 36 years old and I have spent nine of them in prisons. I could not ignore the DPR comrades’ request and refuse to come to them.

Here, in the DPR, the political situation is complicated: there are both conservative and social state supporters. I want to help Ukrainian left forces. Our aim is to turn the war between peoples into the war between rich and poor. Both in the DPR and here, under captivity, I see only soldiers from poor – they are workers, peasants, unemployed youth. There are no rich at the front line. The rich have money and business, they buy off military draft.

But I have also seen nationalists, the “Right Sector” who had acquired weapons from the state and now they are at war. When the war is over, they will not choose to disarm, even now they begin to come into power, into law-enforcement agencies. Even common police or the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) officers are dissatisfied with it. When nationalists come to power in a multinational country like Ukraine, it results in its dismemberment and bloodshed. “European integration” was only a cover for it.

On December 29, I was officially arrested and driven to the SBU of  Mariupol city. Before, I was hidden in “basements” – those are secret military prisons in the anti-terrorist operation zone. Any room may become such a prison: a metal container inside which it is dark even under daylight and cold like outside; a deserted café basement with self-made cages for persons; an anonymous single cell in a police department. There is only one thing in common among all those places – you are alone, you know neither where you are nor what would happen to you; any movement is made with tied hands and in a mask with holes on its back side – you cannot see anything. I have seen something like this only in films about kidnapping. All military men wear masks, too. A ski mask became the symbol of anonymity and war.

I had passed through a lot in my life. I have been tortured by police. But in “basements”, torture is systemic, everybody is forced to speak there. Because those who refuse to speak – they never come back. They disappear. When I was detained at the checkpoint, I had pieces of evidence with me – my passport of a Russian citizen, a St. George Ribbon at my car antenna, my work papers. So I didn’t keep silent, I confirmed what was apparent – I had helped the DPR. Just in the beginning they demonstrated me what would lie ahead if I keep silence – tying up, rack, electric shock device, gas mask, etc. Now I am being accused of terrorism – Article 258 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, as long as the authorities consider Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as “terrorist organizations”. Thousands of doctors, teachers, state employees work in the DPR, they are also consider “terrorists”. What a nonsense!

I am waiting for a prisoner exchange. My comrades have included me in the lists of prisoners exchange between Ukraine and the DPR. Now I am a political prisoner. There are more than a hundred of us here in the prison: militia men, opposition activists, “accomplices”. All are charged under Article 258. I can hear artillery sounds from my cell window, the prison is near the front line. I don’t know what may lie ahead of us: a prison term, prisoner exchange, a stray shell or shooting like hostages.

I enclose my great gratitude to all who have expressed solidarity with my destiny.

Long live socialist Novorossia! Freedom to all prisoners!
Andrey ‘Che’ Sokolov, January, 30, 2015
Imprisoned in Mariupol, DPR


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