- Part Three of Article 162 of the Russian Criminal Code (robbery)
- Part Two of Article 105 of the Code (murder of two or more persons) — exculpated
- Part One of Article 356 of the Code (use of banned means and methods of warfare) — exculpated
August 21, 2014
8.5 years in tight security penal colony
Litvinov Sergey Nikolayevich (born 1983), penal colony #15, 356 Gorkogo Str., Bataysk, Rostov Oblast, 346880, Russia
days in custody
Serhiy Lytvynov used to live in the village of Komyshne in the frontline area of Luhansk Oblast (East Ukraine), where he carried out various kinds of household work for a local entrepreneur. Serhiy finished only seven years of study and, according to his fellow villagers, had very poor reading and writing skills. His lawyer confirms that his client has the problems of mental development. Litvinov was not liable for military conscription.
On August 12, 2014, Serhiy Lytvynov left for Russia’s Rostov Oblast for medical treatment because he needed an urgent dental surgery. All the medical facilities in Luhansk Oblast close to his village were inaccessible due to the hostilities. Lytvynov stayed in a Russian hospital for several days together with the militants of the so-called ‘LNR’/‘DNR,’ who had fought against Ukraine in Donbas. Serhiy allegedly told them about his ‘membership’ of a Ukrainian volunteer battalion. On August 21, 2014, he was taken away of the hospital by unknown masked persons and delivered to the Rostov Oblast Department of Control over Organized Crime.
In the course of the investigation, Lytvynov ‘acknowledged his guilt’ of killing civilians in East Ukraine, namely the murders of thirty men, rape and murders of eight women and a 12-year-old girl. Lytvynov also ‘confirmed’ that he allegedly got the orders from the commanders of the Ukrainian battalion Dnipro-1, and those orders were aimed “exclusively at the deterioration of the demographic situation amidst the Russian-speaking population.” The soldiers of the battalion were supposedly paid monetary rewards as incentives “depending on the number of people killed during clean-up operations” from the private funds of Dnipropetrovsk governor Ihor Kolomoyskyi. According to the case materials, Kolomoyskyi ‘personally brought the money to the soldiers.’ The complex of crimes Lytvynov was charged with could cost him life imprisonment.
After a meeting with the Ukrainian consul on November 10, 2014, Lytvynov disclaimed his earlier ‘testimony’ and stated that he was subject to torture. He also denied his service in the battalion Dnipro-1. This information had earlier been confirmed by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
The crimes imputed to Lytvynov provided for the chance of a trial by jury. Importantly, Serhiy’s lawyer Viktor Parshutkin was well-known as an expert in the details of jury trial. Given the substantial evidence of Lytvynov’s innocence, his denial of the ‘testimony’ wrested under torture, and his skilful legal defence, the investigation authorities found themselves in a difficult situation. On November 30, 2015, the charges of military crimes were completely dismissed and Lytvynov was vindicated.
In the summer of 2016, he put a claim to the compensation of moral damages caused by the illegal prosecution and torture. While the claimant demanded 3,300,000 Russian rubles (more than $50,000), the court adjudged him the humiliating ‘indemnity’ of 1,000 rubles ($15) in November 2016.
On September 10, 2015, a new action was brought against Lytvynov in the case of ‘robbery.’ The investigators stated that Serhiy, together with two armed accomplices, had hijacked two cars owned by a Russian citizen who had stayed in the territory controlled by the Russian occupation units and ‘LNR’ separatists.
Lytvynov’s lawyer argues that the ‘robbery case’ was framed up like the previous one. He stresses that the Russian citizenship of the car owner raises doubts and that there is no other evidence of the ‘crime’ but the words of the reported ‘aggrieved party.’
- Lytvynov’s defense questioned the credibility of the interrogation transcripts in the case of ‘war crimes.’ The defense underscored that Serhiy had finished only seven years of study and it was difficult for him to even specify accurately his personal data. Meanwhile, the transcripts included complex grammar constructions and special criminalistic vocabulary.
- The lawyer Viktor Parshutkin found out that the ‘victims’ listed in Lytvynov’s case file did not exist at all. Those persons have never lived or registered at the mentioned addresses, and their bodies have never been received in any mortuary.
- According to the explanation of Anton Herashchenko, the advisor of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, the battalion Dnipro-1 has never fought in the territory of Luhansk Oblast: it was stationed only in Donetsk Oblast instead.
- The complex psychological and psychophysical forensic assessment with the use of a polygraph showed 72% probability that Lytvynov “had not been involved in executions either on his own or within a group of people”. The experts concluded that he “had neither participated in the rapes of women or children nor obtained any orders to take part in clean-up actions in settlements in the ranks of the battalion Dnipro-1 nor been offered to join it.”
- There is reason to challenge the accusation of robbery. According to the papers of the ‘aggrieved party,’ the vehicle had been hijacked many years ago. The data provided by the Ukrainian Border Guard Service shows that the car owner had legally crossed the Ukraine-Russia border for the last time long before the reported ‘commitment’ of the ‘crime.’ The house this person owns in Donbas has been deserted, and its windows boarded up.
- Lytvynov slandered himself because he was subject to severe tortures.
After the meeting with the Ukrainian consul, Lytvynov stated that he had made a false ‘confession’ of guilt because of tortures. He told Olena Masyuk, a member of the Moscow Public Supervisory Commission, that unknown persons took him to the woods, where they bound him to a tree upside down, beat and hit him with the electric current, shot near his ear and wounded him in a rib cage with a knife.
Lytvynov’s words were confirmed with a polygraph test, which showed 73% probability that he “had been taken away from the hospital in Russia’s Rostov Oblast to an unknown settlement or area and subject to physical and medicamental influence (tortures) by unknown persons […] who aimed to make him testify about his participation in the ‘punitive actions’ of the battalion Dnipro-1.”