Ukrainian citizen jailed in Russia urges country to close border with Belarus

Pavlo Hryb, who was abducted in Belarus and then convicted in Russia, addressed Ukraine’s president, parliament and government. His father Ihor Hryb has posted the appeal on Facebook.

On behalf of Ukrainian military and political prisoners of the Putin regime, he called on the authorities to shut Ukraine’s Belarusian and Russian frontiers.

“Whatever disappointment Ukraine is facing, whoever gets into the power on the back of this disappointment, the major duty of the authorities is to get arrestees and political prisoners released and to prevent new detentions by closing the state border with Moscow [Russia] and Belarus and breaking off diplomatic relations with all hostile nations. We demand it. Any authority should heed our words. Any other policy in this field is nothing but high treason,” Pavlo Hryb wrote.

In August 2017, Pavlo Hryb went missing in the Belarusian city of Homiel. He was allegedly kidnapped by the Russian Federal security Service (FSB). As it emerged later, Russia blacklisted him as a ‘terrorist’ for his criticizing the Kremlin’s policy on the Internet. In Homiel he met with the 17-year-old girl from Sochi who later confessed that the FSB exerted pressure on her. Later, Pavlo Hryb was ‘found’ arrested in Russia’s Krasnodar.

After a massive public outcry and diplomatic note, the Belarusian State Border Committee admitted the fact of his border crossing on August 24 and said Hryb had not violated anything. According to a Krasnodar court, the arrest warrant was issued on August 17 (i.e., before Pavlo Hryb crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border), when he was put on the international wanted list. According to the Russian side, Hryb asked his acquaintance to go off a bomb at a school assembly in Sochi. Stating that the charge was forged, Pavlo pleads not guilty.

In early February, Ukraine’s human rights envoy Liudmyla Denisova said that Pavlo Hryb was on the verge of life and death. “The 20-year-old political prisoner needs urgent heart surgery because his state of health is supercritical,” she stressed.

In March 2019, Russia’s North Caucasian district military court sentenced Pavlo Hryb to six years in a penal colony for ‘promoting terrorism’.

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