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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                      


Conditions in many prisons are squalid and dangerous.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2020].

Description: Description: Description: Description: Ukraine


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Ukraine.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ukraine

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 August 2021]


Abuse of detainees by police remained a widespread problem. For example, on January 3, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group interviewed 30 prisoners from the Kharkiv Oblast’s Oleksyyivska correctional colony No. 25 after the group received information regarding severe abuse of inmates, including torture and rape. The group collected reports of rape, beatings, forced labor, and extortion of money, and sent them to the State Bureau for Investigations to open an investigation. The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner on Human Rights (Ombudsperson’s Office) visited the institution twice that month and reported during its first visit instances of officers handcuffing 22 inmates and beating them with rubber batons, which resulted in abrasions and bruising.

On January 11, the Ombudsperson’s Office interviewed 12 inmates in the medical unit. The 12 individuals claimed that at around three or four in the morning, they were handcuffed and dragged down the street in their underwear to the institution’s headquarters, where they remained until around seven in the evening. Inmates remained in handcuffs for almost 15 hours and did not receive any food. Inmates also reported being dragged on the floor from the first to second floor. Their bodies were reportedly covered in abrasions and hematomas, particularly on their heads from the abuse they suffered.


Prison and detention center conditions remained poor, did not meet international standards, and at times posed a serious threat to the life and health of prisoners. Physical abuse, lack of proper medical care and nutrition, poor sanitation, and lack of adequate light were persistent problems.

Physical Conditions: Overcrowding remained a problem in some pretrial detention facilities, although human rights organizations reported that overcrowding at such centers decreased as a result of reforms in 2016 that eased detention requirements for suspects. Monitors from the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner on Human Rights (Ombudsperson) reported that cells in one of the Kharkiv detention facility’s buildings measured less than 11 square feet, which allowed prisoners only enough room to stand. According to monitors, even short-term detention there could be regarded as mistreatment.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Ukraine

Executive Summary, 15 December 2020

[accessed 18 December 2020]

The main objective of the visit was to review the treatment of persons held in penitentiary institutions, in particular at two correctional colonies in the Kharkiv area, namely Colonies Nos. 25 and 100. In addition, the CPT’s delegation visited, for the first time, Colony No. 77 in Berdyansk. The visit to Colony No. 100 also provided an opportunity to review the situation of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. Another objective of the visit was to examine the action taken by the investigative authorities in relation to complaints of ill-treatment of inmates by prison staff.

At Colony No. 25, the delegation received a number of credible allegations of physical ill-treatment by prison officers in the course of 2019, consisting of punches, kicks and blows with rubber truncheons, mainly in relation to inmates who had refused to clean the premises (or accept other tasks imposed by the administration) or following instances of disobedient behaviour. The alleged illtreatment mainly took place in the offices of operational officers, occasionally with the help of inmates (so-called “duty prisoners”) who had a designated role to assist staff and were assigned supervisory tasks over other prisoners. In a few cases, the alleged ill-treatment was of such severity that it could be considered to amount to torture (e.g. extensive beating, infliction of burns to the buttocks, asphyxiation using a plastic bag, etc.). In addition, the delegation received allegations of threats of physical ill-treatment made by staff (including threats of rape with a truncheon).

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Ukraine

Executive Summary, 14 January 2020

[accessed 31 May 2020]

Regarding means of restraint, senior officials from the Ministry of Social Policy told the delegation that they could only be legally resorted to in those of the psycho-neurological “internats” which had a Ministry of Health licence for the provision of psychiatric care; in such cases, the rules applicable would be the same as those applied in psychiatric hospitals. In practice, the delegation observed that mechanical restraint was occasionally resorted to in Velykorybalske and Baraboi, and seclusion was used  in  the  three  internats”,  as  was  chemical  restraint,  irrespective  of  whether  the  establishment concerned  had  the  relevant  Ministry  of  Health  licence  or  not.  The  CPT  recommended  that  the Ukrainian  authorities  ensure  that  resort  to  means of  restraint  in  all  psycho-neurological “internats’ takes  place  in  accordance  with  the  law;  this  would require,  as  a  first  step,  obtaining  a  Ministry  of Health licence for the provision of psychiatric care.

OHCHR report: Hostages released from detention in Donbas subjected to torture

Reuters, 19 March 2018

[accessed 25 March 2018]

OHCHR documented 115 cases of credible allegations of unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment and/or sexual violence committed on both sides of the contact line.

All of those interviewed described having been subjected to inhumane conditions of detention, torture or ill treatment, sexual violence, threats of violence, and/or violations of fair trial guarantees.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Conditions in many prisons are squalid and dangerous.

Demonstrators protest alleged torture of anti-graft bureau staff by prosecutors

The Kyiv Post, 17 August 2016

[accessed 17 August 2016]

Artem Sytnyk, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, said on Aug. 15 that the prosecutors had illegally broken into a safehouse where bureau employees were based. The bureau staff were conducting surveillance of the prosecutors.

As a result, they had to call the anti-corruption bureau's special-force unit, which helped to release the bureau employees.

The bureau employees said the prosecutors had hit them in the ribs, necks, jaws and legs. The prosecutors also threatened to flay them and to cut out an eye with a knife, the bureau employees claimed.

Enforced Disappearances, Torture

Amnesty International, 21 July 2016

[accessed 2 August 2016]

[accessed 2 August 2016]

The Ukrainian authorities and pro-Kiev paramilitary groups have detained civilians suspected of involvement with or supporting Russian-backed separatists, while the separatist forces have detained civilians suspected of supporting or spying for the Ukrainian government, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found. 

In one case, “Vadim,” 39, was detained and tortured first by one side, then the other. In April 2015, armed men seized him at a checkpoint manned by Ukrainian forces, pulled a bag over his head, and questioned him about his alleged connections with Russia-backed separatists. Vadim spent more than six weeks in captivity, most of the time in a facility apparently run by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) personnel. His interrogators tortured him with electric shocks, burned him with cigarettes, and beat him, demanding that he confess to working for Russia-backed separatists.

After they finally released him, Vadim returned to Donetsk and was immediately detained by the local de facto authorities, who suspected him of having been recruited by Ukraine’s Security Service during his time in captivity. He spent more than two months in incommunicado detention in an unofficial prison in central Donetsk, where his captors also beat and ill-treated him.

A Brutal Ordeal. A Monk Talks about his Torture

Редакция портала Православие.Ru, 20 April 2015


[accessed 10 May 2015]

[accessed 20 January 2019]

The torture chamber had an opening in the ceiling for observation. He was now in it, with handcuffs on his wrists and a bag on his head. The handcuffs were actually more like stocks, which prevented any circular movement of the hands. Whenever he gave an answer that the interrogators did not like, he was beaten—first on the kidneys with a baton, and then on the arms, legs, and liver. When this did not bring the desired result, his interrogators laid him on the floor, the handcuffs cutting at his wrists, and water-boarded him, “like in Guantanamo.” With a rag on his face, they poured water over his nose and mouth from a bucket until he began to convulse. He thinks it lasted an hour and a half, but he says that in that place, time is different. There were no windows, and he did not even know whether it was day or night. It could have been longer. When his convulsions began, they told him he would “rest” until the morning, and then he would write his “testimony”.

But apparently Fr. Theophan’s ordeal was nothing compared to what the separatists were made to endure when taken captive. The other prisoners told him that they had witnessed how these people were tortured. Their arms and legs were slashed when they gave the “wrong” answers. At the Donetsk airport, where the Ukrainian volunteer army interrogated prisoners, the separatists were strung up by their hands, which were tied behind their backs. Whenever they gave the wrong answer, the rope was pulled tighter. Fr. Theophan was also told how women were tortured in the cell were he was held. “Metal cables attached to an electrical device were clasped on their breasts and a strong charge was administered until they were brought to a terrible state, and made to talk.”

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


MAIDAN VIOLENCE - On November 30 and December 1, 2013, riot police violently dispersed and severely beat numerous peaceful demonstrators in Kiev protesting Yanukovich’s rejection of a political and trade agreement with the European Union. Police detained some of the protesters and beat them in custody.

Abuse, torture revealed at separatists' prison in Luhansk

Nataliya Trach, Kyiv Post, 3 January 2015

[accessed 5 January 2015]

“If a prisoner resisted he was beaten by a plastic pipe,” Aleksey Dakhnenko, the deputy head of the illegal prison and member of the "Batman" military unit, says in a video interview, posted on YouTube. The head of the prison, known by the nickname 'Maniac', used a hammer to torture prisoners, he adds.

“Maniac was well-known for his cruelty. As legend has it he had a surgery toolkit, the set of field surgeon, which he always laid out in front of detainees to scare them. In such a way he tried to extract testimony from prisoners,” Dakhnenko says:

UN Committee against Torture’s Concluding Observations on Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela, Australia, Burundi, USA, Croatia and Kazakhstan

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, Geneva, 24 November 2014

[accessed 7 December 2014]

The UN Committee against Torture will be holding a news conference to discuss the concluding observations of its 53rd session ... Among the issues discussed during the session:

UKRAINE: Slow investigations, lack of accountability regarding excessive use of force by police in connection with protests since November 2013; reports of torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, killings in areas under control of armed groups, notably in Donetsk and Lugansk regions; high rate of mortality among prisoners, mainly from tuberculosis; increase in the number of deaths and suicides in custody; high rate of domestic violence.

Ukraine's Ousted President Viktor Yanukovych Faces ICC Trial

Reuters, Kiev, 25 February 2014

[accessed 25 Feb 2014]

Ukraine's parliament voted on Tuesday to send fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych to be tried by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured.

In a resolution which was overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, Yanukovych was linked to police violence against protesters which had caused the deaths of more than 100 people and injured 2,000

Methods of torture used by police against protesters included holding activists naked in temperatures of 15 degrees below freezing, it alleged.

Ukraine activist's story fuels torture squad fears

Maria Danilova, The Associated Press AP, Kiev, 31 January 2014

[accessed 25 March 2014]

[accessed 31 August 2016]

The bloody images of Ukrainian opposition supporter Dmytro Bulatov, who says he was abducted and tortured for more than a week, have fueled fears among anti-government activists that extrajudicial squads are being deployed to intimidate the protest movement.   Bulatov, who was in charge of a vocal protest group before he disappeared Jan. 22, recounted a gruesome ordeal, saying his unidentified kidnappers beat him, sliced off part of his ear and nailed him to a door during his time in captivity.   ‘‘There isn’t a spot on my body that hasn’t been beaten. My face has been cut. They promised to poke my eye out. They cut off my ear,’’ Bulatov, 35, said Friday in a short video from his hospital ward. ‘‘They crucified me by nailing me to a door with something and beat me strongly all the while.’’

Some opposition leaders believe the government will do anything to save itself, including sending brutal squads of torturers to quash the demonstrations.   Prominent opposition figure Oleksandr Turchynov accused the government of being behind the attacks on Bulatov and other activists.

Amnesty International urges Ukraine to end rampant police beatings, torture

The Associated Press AP, Kiev, 11 April 2013

[accessed 14 September 2014]

Oleksandr Popov, an auto mechanic from a Ukrainian provincial city, says police beat, choked and shocked him with electricity for hours, trying to extract a confession out of him. After they realized he was not the man they were looking for, they simply released him, covered with bruises and barely able to stand. When Popov complained, prosecutors refused to press charges.

In a report released Thursday, Amnesty International said Popov’s story is typical for Ukraine, saying rampant beatings and torture at the hands of police go unpunished

Amnesty said that out of some 115,000 complaints filed last year over police treatment, only 1,750 — about 1.5 percent — were investigated and only 320 criminal cases were filed against about 440 police officers..

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/UKR/CO/5 (2007)

[accessed 12 March 2013]

Lack of effective investigation into reports of torture and the role of the General Prosecutor’s office

10. The Committee is concerned by the failure to initiate and conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into complaints of torture and ill-treatment, in particular due to the problems posed by the dual nature and responsibilities of the General Prosecutor’s office, (a) for prosecution and (b) for oversight of the proper conduct of investigations.  The Committee notes the conflict of interest between these two responsibilities, resulting in a lack of independent oversight of cases where the General Prosecutor’s office fails to initiate an investigation.  Furthermore, there is an absence of data on the work of the General Prosecutor’s office, such as statistics on crime investigations, prosecutions and convictions, and the apparent absence of a mechanism for data collection.

Evidence obtained by coercion

11. The Committee is concerned at the current investigation system in which confessions are used as a principal form of evidence for prosecution, thus creating conditions that may encourage the use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects. The Committee regrets that the State party did not sufficiently clarify the legal provisions ensuring that any statements which have been made under torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, as stipulated in the Convention.

Law enforcement personnel

13. The Committee is concerned at allegations of acts in breach of the Convention committed by law enforcement personnel, especially with regard to persons detained by the militia and in pre-trial detention facilities (SIZO), and at the apparent impunity of the perpetrators.  The Committee is also concerned at the reported use of masks by the anti-terrorist unit inside prisons (e.g. in the Izyaslav Correctional Colony, in January 2007), resulting in the intimidation and ill-treatment of inmates.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - There were continuing reports of torture and other ill-treatment in police detention. In a report on a visit to Ukraine in 2011, published in November, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture stated that it had been “inundated with allegations from detained persons” who had been subjected to physical or psychological ill-treatment by police officers. Shevchenkivskiy police station in Kyiv was singled out as being particularly “problematic”.

On 18 September, Parliament passed legislation allowing the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights’ Office to carry out the functions of a National Preventive Mechanism, in fulfilment of Ukraine’s obligations under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

Mikhail Belikov, a retired miner, was tortured by police officers from Petrovskiy District police station in Donetsk on 17 June. He was approached by three duty police officers in a park for drinking in public. He reported that he was beaten in the park and then taken to the Petrovskiy District sub-police station, where a fourth duty police officer raped him with a police baton while three other policemen held him down. A more senior officer told him to forget what had happened, and asked him to pay 1,500 hryvna (€144) to be released. He agreed to pay and was released without charge. That night his condition worsened considerably. He was taken to hospital where doctors found that he had suffered serious internal injuries, and he would require a temporary colostomy. At the end of the year, three police officers were on trial for five separate incidents of beating and extortion, going back to 2009, including the torture of Mikhail Belikov. Two of the officers were charged with torture, under Article 127 of the Criminal Code.


Report to the Ukrainian Government on the visit to Ukraine carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)from 8 to 21 December 2017

Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 6 September 2018

[accessed 16 May 2019]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY -- However,  the  delegation  received  a  considerable  number  of  recent  and  credible  allegations  from detained  persons  regarding  the  excessive  use  of  force  during  apprehension  by  the  police  (mostly plainclothes   operational   officers,   more   rarely   uniformed   patrol   police   officers),   as   well   as allegations  of  physical  ill-treatment  after  being  brought  under  control,  mainly  consisting  of  kicks, punches and truncheon blows, as well as too tight and prolonged handcuffing.

Overall,  the  delegation  gained  the  impression  that,  compared  to  the  findings  of  the  2016  visit,  the severity  of  the  ill-treatment  alleged  had  diminished.  However, the frequency of allegations remained at a worrying level, especially in Kyiv.

Unfortunately,  the  unacceptable  practice  of unrecorded  detentions had not  been  fully  eliminated, despite  specific  recommendations  to  this  effect  repeatedly  made  by  the  Committee  after  previous visits.  In  addition,  persons  concerned  were  allegedly  subjected  to  informal  questioning  without benefiting from the safeguards provided for by law.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 2   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 15 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Police torture, overcrowded prisons, and poor conditions continued to be a problem in 2008, according to Human Rights Watch. However, the Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Authorities reform, signed by Yushchenko on April 8, sought to bring Ukraine’s system up to international standards; it particularly focuses on improving pretrial detention procedures and strengthening victim’s rights.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 15 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – While the law prohibits such practices, police frequently employed severe violence against persons in custody.

On September 24, Amnesty International released a report charging that law enforcement officers routinely extracted confessions and testimonies from detainees through force, often resorting to torture, and criticized the authorities for failing to clamp down on such behavior by police and prison officials. According to an August 2004 Fifth Channel television program, police frequently beat detainees, hung them upside down, and doused them with water. According to the program, police officers tortured individuals to extract confessions or simply to get money; a lawyer interviewed on the program said he had been taken into custody and beaten until he agreed to pay approximately $5 thousand (UAH 25 thousand) to a policeman. According to a survey of former police detainees published in October by the Kharkiv‑based Institute for Social Research, approximately 62 percent reported that they had been ill‑treated while in detention in Kharkiv. More than 44 percent said police officers had twisted their arms, legs, or necks during interrogation, while nearly 33 percent reported that they had been kicked or punched by police officers.

During an October 11 meeting with representatives from the Council of Europe, Human Rights Ombudsman Nina Karpachova acknowledged that torture continued to occur in pretrial detention facilities.

During the year authorities stepped up efforts to prosecute police officers who abused persons in detention. According to the media and Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko, as of September 1, the PGO had opened 496 criminal cases against police officers for detention‑related abuses, compared to 209 such cases opened during all of 2004. One human rights NGO official reported that, as a consequence of greater scrutiny of police behavior, police engaging in mistreatment of detainees increasingly used masks or hoods to avoid identification.

There were no developments in a number of 2003 incidents, including the torture of detainees by police officers in Poltava, the abuse of a criminal suspect by a senior police officer in Zaporizhzhya, and the severe beating of a prisoner in a Donetsk Region prison which resulted in the amputation of the prisoner's feet.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Ukraine",, [accessed <date>]