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The Platform for the Release of Political Prisoners launched a new advocacy campaign "Voices of the Occupation" ​

Ex-prisoners of the Kremlin announced the start of the pan-European civil advocacy project "Voices of the Occupation". Roman Sushchenko, Volodymyr Zhemchugov, Ihor Kozlovsky and Pavlo Hryb will visit Prague, Paris and Brussels and hold a series of interrelated advocacy events between April 22 and 30.

Also, as part of the campaign, the premiere of a social play honoring the memory of the victims of the Russian invasion, called "Evacuation 2022" by the famous Ukrainian director Olga Danyliuk, took place.

In 2014-2021, the coalition of Ukrainian human rights organizations documented more than 200 politically motivated cases of illegal persecution and detention of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied territories, in Belarus and the Russian Federation. Most of the political prisoners of the Kremlin, who are recognized as such by the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, are still in prison.

After February 24, 2022, the number of civilian hostages increased many times. All of them need reintegration, rehabilitation, adaptation and social protection, as well as acquiring skills to protect their rights and interests.
Responding to these challenges, the “Platform for the Release of Political Prisoners” launched an international civil advocacy campaign in cooperation with the “European Values” research center and with the assistance of the Prague Center for Civil Society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
During the week-long visit to Brussels, Paris and Prague, which lasted from April 22 to 30, members of the Platform held a number of meetings with politicians, experts and public figures.
On April 23, 2023 together with the comrades of the PLATFORM FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS Pavel Hryb, Igor Kozlovskyi, and Volodymyr Zhemchugov held an important and warm meeting with the Ukrainians of Prague and the Czechs under the name “Ukraines behind bars: from Lefortovo to Magadan” in Prague hideout.
They talked about the mission with which they came to the Czech Republic, shared their own experience of resisting the aggressor, asked for support for political prisoners of the Kremlin, civilian hostages and prisoners, and also answered the questions of Ukrainians living in the Czech capital. Not just our compatriots came to the meeting, they are volunteers who, together with Czech like-minded people, help the front, support Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin and their families.
They exchanged opinions and possibilities of joint efforts to support and release captured Ukrainians. In particular, Oleksandr Marchenko, Valentin Vyhivskyi, Oleksiy Besarabov, Volodymyr Dudka, Dmytro Shtyblikov, Crimean Tatars. They had a conversation with the wife of the famous Kremlin prisoner Kateryna Marchenko regarding communication and support of her husband. We are impressed by her resilience and courage.
Ukrainians and Czechs were given postcards with pictures written in Russian places of captivity. We thank the organizers and participants of the meeting.
On April 24, 2023 PLATFORM FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS together with colleagues started work in the Senate of the Czech Republic.
Took part in the opening and work of the international conference “Looking for justice for Ukraine; in the context of Jus&Bellum”.
The importance and relevance of the topic and issues of the conference agenda was confirmed by the status of the participants. The conference was opened by the Chairman of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Milos Vysyrchil, the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament, Marcheta Pekarova Adamova, and the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk.
The speakers unanimously expressed support for Ukraine, confirmed the political decision and readiness to find and bring to justice those guilty of war crimes on the territory of Ukraine, the initiation of relevant mechanisms, programs, the creation of legal centers and a number of measures.

Participated in the work of the conference "Looking for justice for Ukraine; in the context of Jus & Bellum" at the level of panels with the participation of Czech representatives of the prosecutor's office, parliamentary committees, the OSCE, the Ministry of Justice, NGOs.
Chairing the conference, the head of the parliamentary committee on human rights, Eva Decroix, outlined the main leitmotifs of the event: "right to war" and "right in war". The chairwoman gave the first floor to me, as a representative of the PLATFORM FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS.
He emphasized that today Ukraine has become the arena of struggle between two civilizations - the Western one, based on the idea of ​​equality of all people in rights, and the Eurasian one, with its idea of ​​reviving the empire within the borders of Eastern Europe and Asia, with the center in Moscow.
This struggle is not for territories or resources, but for Russia's special role in world history. For the need to unify Eastern Europe under Kremlin rule on the basis of the "historical and cultural commonality" of peoples.
Before our eyes, not only an armed war is going on, but also an existential, meaningful struggle for freedom, dignity and human rights - the values ​​of a free world oriented towards life and the future. The world has changed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and will no longer be the same as we used to see it. The global security crisis has already touched our continent and caused numerous victims in Ukraine.
Russia's war in Ukraine changes everything: politics, economy, environment, culture, society, way of thinking. Changes occur simultaneously on several levels: personal, national, regional and global.

But the most important thing is that there is a rethinking of the way of life, interpersonal relations and interstate relations.
The invasion of the Rashists into Ukraine last year pushed the fate of hundreds of people from the occupied Crimea and eastern Donbas, who came under the repression of the Putin regime in the occupied territories of Ukraine, to the background. They received long prison terms on trumped-up charges of terrorism, extremism, espionage and sabotage. "Spy" Valentyn Vyhivskyi has already been in prison for the 9th year out of 11 years, "saboteurs" Oleksiy Besarabov and Volodymyr Dudka have already spent 6.5 years out of 14 under the sentence in pre-trial detention centers and high-security colonies. Another "saboteur" Dmytro Shtyblykov served a 5-year term and received a non-stop sentence of 19.5 years! Ukrainians are tortured in pretrial detention centers. They are kept in terrible conditions, without food, warm clothes and proper medical care.

EU policy towards Ukraine at this stage cannot be limited only to humanitarian, economic and military support. We propose to implement targeted EU programs for prisoners and civilian hostages and cooperation in the following areas:
- assistance through specialized intelligence and information services of EU countries in summarizing and systematizing information about freed and still prisoners, including those who were and are being released outside of official exchanges;
- the establishment of a coordinating body that would take care of the development and implementation of programs to help those released from captivity at the EU level;
- creation, with the support of the Council of Europe, of a permanent work center in Brussels under the EU, with a press service for providing information to mass media and a venue for information events (meetings, conferences, expert discussions, round tables and cultural and artistic events).

We call for specific steps to be taken to implement a new policy in the EU to bring to justice those guilty of crimes against humanity and violations of basic human rights, to implement real assistance for release from captivity and their further rehabilitation.
I thank my comrades from the Platform for the Release of Political Prisoners, Igor Kozlovskyi, Pavel and Igor Hryb, and Volodymyr Zhemchugov for their help in preparing the report.
Thanks to our Czech partners, especially David Stulík for the invitation, organization and holding of the conference.

During the breaks of the conference of the Parliament of the Czech Republic entitled “In Search of Justice for Ukraine”, Hero of Ukraine Volodymyr Zhemchugov thanked the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Markéta Pekarová Adamová and the Chairman of the Senate of the Czech Republic Miloš Vystrčil for the assistance to Ukraine directed against Russian armed aggression, for the humanitarian assistance that the Czech Republic The Republic is now providing Ukraine with the books “WAR.RU” (author Yu. Rudenko) and “White Book” (edited by D. Zolotukhin), which expose Russian fakes in the war with Ukraine. The head of the conference, Ms Eva Decroix, spoke about the torture that the criminal regime of Russia has been using on Ukrainian citizens since 2014.

Books in English were printed by the State Enterprise “Center for the Protection of the Information Space of Ukraine” on the order of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

In Prague, Brussels and Paris, we will give books in English to European friends of Ukraine, in which the truth is written about Russia’s war in Ukraine since 2014. Testimony of former political prisoners about the torture applied to Ukrainian citizens in Russian prisons “Rise after the fall”, author Hennadiy Afanasyev (Olga Afanasyeva), the testimony of the civilian population about the events during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine from February 2022, “Journeys to the Beyond. Mariupol”, author Yevhen Shishatskyi and others, which I will write later. It is also evidence for the Hague Court!
On April 24, 2023, they took part in the conference of the Parliament of the Czech Republic (Human Rights Committee headed by Deputy Eva Decroix) entitled “In Search of Justice for Ukraine” in the context of Jus & Bellum. The conference was attended by the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament, Marketa Pekarova Adamova, the Chairman of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk, who, on April 24 Ruslan Stefanchuk presented the Speaker of the Czech Senate Milos Vystrchil with the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise II degree.
Our #OccupationVoices team is present, consisting of Ihor Hryb, Ihor Kozlovskyi, Roman Sushchenko, Volodymyr Zhemchugov, Pavlo Hryb, and Olena Zhemchugova. Oleksandra Romantsova from the Center for Civil Liberties is present.
We are waiting for the report of our delegation member Roman Sushchenko.
We hope for the powerful help of the Czech Republic in putting pressure on the country to release Ukrainian civilian prisoners and prisoners of war.
On April 24, 2023, a positive meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic with representatives of the #OccupationVoices advocacy group, where members of the PLATFORM FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS voiced proposals and submitted theses for the development of mechanisms for the release of Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin and assistance to the families of prisoners. It was nice to feel the genuine interest in these issues from the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Martin Povejšil who is the Director General for Security Policy and Multilateral Affairs, who offered possible help to publicize among world leaders the problem of illegal detention of Ukrainian civilians who have been behind bars since 2014 Valentin Vyhovskyi, Dmytro Shtyblikov, Oleksiy Bessarabov and many others.
On April 24, 2023, representatives of the #OccupationVoices advocacy campaign Igor Hryb, Vladimir Zhemchugov, Igor A. Kozlovsky, Roman Sushchenko, and Pavlo Hryb met with Czech and Ukrainian youth at the Scout Institute in Prague yesterday. There was a public discussion of human rights violations, Russian war crimes, the current situation in Ukraine, the state of releasing civilian prisoners from Russia and the so-called “DNR” and “LNR”. There was feedback, several questions from the audience and personal communication at the end of the event for all former political prisoners.
On April 25, a meeting of our advocacy group “Voices of the Occupation” took place with Senator Marek Hilscher (Prague, Czech Republic)