lawyers appointed by the court; Ilya Novikov and Tomaz Nodiya
- Part Two of Article 205 of the Russian Criminal Code (terrorism)
- Part Three of Article 222 of the Code (preparation for terrorist act)
May 9, 2014
7 years in tight security colony
Chirniy Aleksey Vladimirovich (born 1981), penal colony #15, 356 Gorkogo Str., Bataysk, Rostov Oblast, 346880, Russia
days in custody
Oleksiy Chyrniy is the fourth defendant in the so-called Crimean Four ‘terrorist case’ (along with Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, and Hennadii Afanasiev), and the one who is often forgotten. His situation has differed from that of the other three because he had acknowledged his guilt on trial and later not refuted the ‘evidence’ given under torture. The case of Chyrniy, like that of Afanasiev, was allotted for separate proceedings and heard in special order.
Oleksiy was ascribed the Russian citizenship against his will and denied a meeting with a Ukrainian consul, in spite of the diplomatic pressure. Thus, he spent nine months in complete isolation. Chyrniy himself was stressing his Ukrainian citizenship from the very beginning of his misadventure. His first meeting with Ukrainian Consul Hennadii Breskalenko took place as late as February 3, 2015, in Lefortovo remand jail. During the meeting, Chyrniy stated that he had been subjected to torture after his capture in May 2014. He said he had been beaten in his head and other parts of his body to make him ‘confess’ to his involvement in the offense.
During the trial, his lawyer Ilya Novikov argued that there are signs of torture on Chyrniy’s body. This torture, Novikov stated, had led to the false confession of his client. But the defendant, apparently wary of reprisal on the part of ‘law enforcers,’ did not cancel the pretrial agreement, which implied the ‘avowal.’
Novikov describes that situation as follows:
The trial in the case of Oleksiy Chyrniy started. I immediately expressed my confidence that he had slandered himself and others under the pressure of the investigative authorities. Oleksiy does not want to break an agreement with the investigative authorities because he is afraid of the consequences. He realizes that he will probably get from 7 to 10 years [in prison] as it had earlier happened to Afanasiev. We had arranged that I would present my position but he would not support it and ask the court to hear the case today rather than return it to the prosecutor’s office… Chyrniy is not a hero: he feels defenseless and does not believe that Ukraine can help him.
As a result, the prosecution succeeded in debarring of the lawyer from the defense because of the conflict of positions. It should be noted that the Russian law considers the inconsistency between the positions of the defender and the defendant in the only case, that is the use of illegal methods of inquest and investigation.
In his last plea on trial, Chyrniy admitted his ‘guilt’ but denied the qualification of his conduct as ‘terrorist activity.’
Oleksiy was charged with the participation in a ‘terrorist group,’ ‘terrorist activity’ related to the plotted arson of the ‘United Russia’ party office, and alleged preparation for the explosion of the Lenin monument and the Eternal Flame memorial in Simferopol. On April 21, 2015, the North Caucasian District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don pronounced a verdict on Chyrniy. It found him guilty of ‘terrorism’ and preparation for a ‘terrorist act.’
The case of Chyrniy did not receive international publicity. Besides, he was deprived of support from his family and friends.
- All the defendants in the Crimean Four case state that they were tortured to make them ‘confess.’
- All the witnesses for the state prosecution were biased. They were people who either had a criminal record and, therefore, were dependent on the investigation, or voluntarily decided to collaborate with the FSB (Russia’s Federal Security Service), or belonged to the so-called secret witnesses, who were likely to be FSB officers.
- The allegation concerning the very existence of the ‘Crimean terrorist group’ was fallacious. None of the defendants questioned in the case told anything about the membership of the ‘group’ or its structure. There was also no consistent evidence concerning the size of the ‘group.’
- During the trial, it became clear that the story of the arson had been an FSB provocation. It was conceived as a pretext for the criminal prosecution of the Crimean anti-occupation resistance activists, who were depicted as ‘terrorists from the Right Sector.’ In particular, the FSB was said to have learned of Chyrniy’s intention to set fire to the offices of the ‘Russian Community of the Crimea’ and ‘United Russia’ as early as April 11 and 14, 2014, respectively. Yet, strikingly, the enforcement agencies did nothing to prevent the arson.
- Oleksiy Chyrniy was tortured both right after his arrest and later, during the investigation. He was placed to a mental hospital where he most probably was made to take psychotropics.
During his long-awaited meeting with the Ukrainian consul, Oleksiy Chiyrniy confirmed that he was subject to torture in Russian custody. In April 2015, the lawyer Ilya Novikov made an official statement that his client had suffered from torture, which had led to his false confession. However, because Oleksiy became a ‘trump card’ of the investigative authorities used to beat all the ‘Crimean Four,’ there is only scarce information concerning his condition and the effects his misfortune has had on his health.
It is known that in July 2014, Chyrniy was held at the Moscow Serbsky Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry where he could be made to take psychotropic drugs. Next month, he was transferred to the psychiatric department of the infamous Moscow Butyrka jail. The place, widely known under the nickname Koshkin Dom (‘Cat’s House’), has a bad reputation among prisoners. There is a well-grounded suspicion that Chyrniy could suffer from psychotropics in this facility, too. Here is what the Russian human rights activist Zoya Svetova tells about her meeting with Chyrniy:
When I first saw him in Koshkin Dom, he looked strangely overinhibited. He could hardly understand what he was asked about. He told that he felt “like his mind was befogged” and told things like “this is the end of my life because there is no future, there is no more the country I used to live in.”
Oleksiy was likely to be moved in Koshkin Dom because he had tried to commit a suicide.