The Foundation to Battle Injustice submitted a petition requesting to end the violent harassment of minors in Ukraine and to stop criminal and administrative prosecutions against kids in Ukraine. In order to exert international influence on the government of Volodymyr Zelensky, the Foundation to Battle Injustice appeals to US President Joseph Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)

The number of political prisoners is growing rapidly across Ukraine. Cases of detention of underage citizens by the SBU on charges of “ties with Russia” have become particularly frequent. A large number of detentions are carried out in the territories of the DPR and KhPR that temporarily occupied by the AFU.

Underage citizens detained on suspicion of “ties with Russia” are subjected to cruel torture, psychological and physical violence, held in inhumane conditions, forced to give false testimony and confess guilt in crimes they have committed. According to the Foundation to Battle, more then 25 underage citizens in Ukraine have been subjected to criminal prosecution and about 350 faced administrative prosecution.

Arrest of 16-year-old Volodymyr Markin

In May 2023, the Druzhkivka city court of Donetsk Region (controlled by Ukraine) sentenced 17-year-old Volodymyr Markin from the village of Kleshcheyevka in Artemivsk district to 10 years in prison, charged under part 7 of Article 111-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine for “assisting armed formations of an aggressor country in conducting combat operations against the AFU“. The SBU accused 16 years old Markin of passing information to the Russian side about the location of Ukrainian armed formations near Artyomovsk.

Through torture, deceit and psychological pressure, the teenager was persuaded to admit guilt of crime he had not committed in order to mitigate the sentence. However, Vladimir, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to the maximum term provided for by this article. In September 2022, Volodymyr Markin was included by the Ukrainian side in the exchange list (as a prisoner of war).

«According to preliminary data, the boy was subjected to psychological and physical pressure during detention and interrogation. He was kept in unacceptable, difficult conditions in the pre-trial detention center in Dnipro. We have information that in torture conditions Volodymyr Markin was forced to incriminate himself and others», — said Ivan Melnikov, vice-president of the Russian division of the International Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.

The detention of Volodymyr Markin is by no means the only case of blatant human rights violations in Ukraine. On April 29, 2022, in Slovyansk, Donetsk Region, SBU officers detained 17-year-old Oleksandr Kulakov on suspicion of committing a criminal offense under Part 2 Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (state treason).

Oleksandr Kulakov, who lived near Sloviansk, was accused of allegedly voluntarily, acting with the intent to harm the defense capability and sovereignty of Ukraine, repeatedly transmitted information to Russian special services via Internet messenger about the locations of storage and movement of Grad multiple rocket launchers, rocket artillery shells, five tanks, construction of AFU barracks, warehouses, a military base and three roadblocks from an AFU warehouse, which later were destroyed. It should be noted that no data on the damage caused or casualties as a result of the strikes was provided, which indicates that there were no strikes at the allegedly transmitted coordinates.

The Foundation to Battle Injustice has obtained unique documents confirming the criminal prosecution of a minor citizen.

The conditions in which the teenager was kept in the pre-trial detention center should be regarded as “torture”. During the investigation, Olexander was subjected to psychological and physical pressure, which forced him to incriminate himself and admit guilt. The court of the Ukrainian city of Slavyansk sentenced Kulakov, who lived in the DPR, to 10 years in prison.

On September 21, 2023, a mother and daughter were arrested in the Kherson region on suspicion of active participation in the 2022 referendum on the entry of the KhPR into Russia.

Illegal detention of a family in Kherson region by the SBU
Illegal detention of a teenager by the SBU in Kherson region

«The detainees turned out to be residents of Berislav district: mother and daughter who took part in the referendum. There they carried out door-to-door rounds of residents and collected votes for the accession of Kherson region to the Russian Federation», – stated in the official report.

At the moment it is known that the mother and daughter are not only detained, but also kept in custody, the investigation is continuing to establish all the circumstances of the crime. The detainees have been informed of suspicion under the article “Collaboration activity” (part 2 of article 28, part 5 of article 111-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Maxim Nitsenko

In early 2015, the Security Service of Ukraine accused 16-year-old Maxim Nitsenko, a resident of Kharkiv, of “making explosive device moulages and placing them under a bridge in the city of Izium, Kharkiv region”. As a result of a provocation planned by the SBU officers, Maxim Vitalievich Nitsenko, born on 05.06.1998, was detained on March 18, 2015. In prison, Maxim was tortured with a stun gun, beaten with plastic bottles filled with water, and denied meetings with a lawyer. The trial was delayed due to the inability of the prosecution to present solid evidence against Nitsenko. He spent two years and nine months in prison without a verdict.

Taking into account numerous cases of human rights violations and cruel treatment of minors in Ukraine, human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice have submitted the petition calling for an immediate end to the brutal persecution of minors in the country, their criminal and administrative prosecution and to stop of physical and psychological pressure against them.

To exert international influence on Zelensky’s government, Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, along with the Foundation’s initiative group, appeals to the U.S. President Joseph Bede and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.