Person of the Week: Hennadiy Afanasyev

posted 22 Feb 2016, 08:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 Feb 2016, 08:28 ]
Hennadiy Afanasyev, a Ukrainian who recanted testimony he gave in the trial of Oleh Sentsov, is serving a seven-year prison sentence in a prison colony in the Komi region of northern Russia after being convicted of conspiring to commit terrorism in Russia. He has recently been transferred to a punishment cell and is being denied medical care despite worsening health, RFE/RL reported on 17 February 2016. 

Amnesty International reported that, at the time that Afanasyev recanted his testimony, "the bold move caused concerns for his safety. [...] Afanasyev has told local prison monitors that Russian secret service members visited him and threatened him in his cell after he refused to testify."

Afanasyev was arrested in May 2014 in Crimea together with Oleg Senstov and two others and charged with conspiring to commit terrorism in Crimea. According to reports, Afanaseyev initially gave testimony against Senstov and Oleksandr Kolchenko, but later said that he had given the testimony under torture. RFE/RL reported that Hennadiy Afanasyev's lawyer, Aleksandr Popkov, said that Afanasyev's request that he be transferred to another facility so he could get treatment for a blood infection was refused. Earlier this month, he was put in a punishment cell after contraband items were allegedly found on him. RFE/RL quotes Popkov as saying: "They’re seriously squeezing him. They’re using the full power of the repressive machine against him. This, most likely, worries him most. One thing after another is piling up: problems with his health, problems with the [prison] director, who is reprimanding him without cause."

Halya Coynash, writing for Human Rights in Ukraine, states that the the release of the four men has been "demanded by all democratic countries and international bodies and is part of the commitments made under the Minsk Agreement." Coynash writes that Afanasyev, along with three others who were detained in May 2014, all opposed Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, and they were held incommunicado for a number of weeks, probably, she writes, to conceal signs of torture. On May 30 the FSB claimed the men had been involved in a ‘Right Sector terrorist plot’. They were convicted in relation to these charges.

Photo of Hennadiy Afanaseyev: Human Rights in Ukraine, via social networks

'Lawyer: Ukrainian Jailed in Russia Moved To Punishment Cell; Health Worsening,' RFE/RL, 17 February 2016
Holya Coynash, 'The full weight of Russia’s repressive machine for courage,' Human Rights in Ukraine, 18 February 2016
Bogdan Ovcharuk, Media and Communications Officer at Amnesty International Ukraine,‘"The system does not forgive" – Crimean activists hauled before a Russian military court,' Amnesty International, 10 August 2015