Stories of convicts

About us

About us

There has been no procedure for the correction of judicial errors in Ukraine for eleven years. Review of criminal convictions of those arbitrarily convicted, including those sentenced to capital punishment (firing squad, life imprisonment). This is the most discriminated category of people. They were convicted by regional (appellate) courts at first instance and had no right to appeal (review of court decisions on the merits by the highest court). They were also convicted in accordance with the Criminal and Procedural Law as amended in 1961, which was punitive with gross violations of human rights. We collect the stories of those convicted for life without the right to have their sentences reviewed. The evidence for these men’s guilt is based on confessions obtained under torture, which they retracted in court. However, the evidence of the defence and the arguments of innocence of these people remained unexamined by the investigation and the court. And people continue to serve undeserved sentences and slowly die.

In any civilised country in the world there is a procedure for correcting judicial errors, reviewing criminal convictions that raise reasonable doubts about their fairness. It is difficult to call the criminal convictions we have examined erroneous. For in each case deliberate malfeasance was committed. Starting with torture in order to obtain a “confession” in order to fabricate case files, in order to make a court decision known to be unjust. Ukraine calls itself a civilised, democratic country, whereas according to statistics from judicial practice, there is less than one per cent of acquittals, whereas in European countries and the USA this figure reaches 20-25 per cent.

It is possible to confidently state, that about 5 and more percent of those condemned for life, serve the sentence for another’s crimes and more than 10 percent qualification of crimes is obviously overstated, and punishment doesn’t correspond to the severity of crime and factual circumstances of incident.

We propose to those in power several variants of solving this injustice that do not contradict each other but on the contrary complement and will promote in Ukraine such a concept as the rule of law and the first acquittals. We propose:

1 To extend the powers of the Ombudsman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the right to appeal to the High Court to review sentences that raise reasonable doubts about their fairness;

2 Return to the Supreme Court the right to review judicial decisions by way of exceptional proceedings;

3 An initiative on the part of the Prosecutor General to review the sentences of those arbitrarily convicted;

4. The adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of Draft Law 5747 amending the Criminal Code of Ukraine and the Code of Criminal Procedure to guarantee the right to appeal against a sentence of life imprisonment to persons who have been sentenced to life imprisonment;

5. Improvement of the procedure of review of sentences based on newly discovered circumstances;

6 Improvement of the Presidential Pardon Regulations;

7 Return of supervisory review to the law of criminal procedure.
The list is not exhausted and we can start working in any direction.
We call on the authorities to act. As a result, we want to get people released from undeserved captivity, we want to have the first acquittals.

Oleksandr Ostrohliad

Vice-Rector of Research Work at King Danylo University – Ukraine.

Yevhen Zakharov

Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group – Ukraine.

Matthias Schoni

Director of Light in the East, Switzerland

Sergey Kovalchuk

Coordinator, Licht im Osten

Vasyl I. Pechko


Stephen Pidgeon

Human rights activist, licensed attorney

Stanislav Kasprov

Director publishing house “Smirna”

Vitaliy Musiyenko

Law Office of Stephen Pidgeon PS – USA.

Ivan Tobilko

Jurisprudence, volunteer, Christian – USA.

Yuriy Kutsan

Videographer/editor, Christian – Ukraine

Iryna Klymova

Artist, art critic. From 2008 to the present, she is the head of the Sholom-Aleichem Museum (branch of the Kyiv History Museum). Author of numerous articles dedicated to fine arts, creativity of Ukrainian artists. Organizes and participates in numerous cultural, educational and educational projects.

Andrii Didenko

Program coordinator of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group – Ukraine.

Dmytro Degtyaryov

Web developer – Ukraine.

Oleg Vasiur

Chaplain of prison ministry – Ukraine