Youngest prisoner swapped: Belarus unsafe for Ukrainians (interview)

Pavlo Hryb is the youngest man of the Ukrainians who returned home in the result of September’s prisoner swap. In an interview with Belsat, 21-year-old citizen of Ukraine reveals the details of Russian officers’ capturing him in Belarus. Hryb also explains why he considers Belarus a ‘governorate-general of Moscovia’.

Павел Гриб дал интервью «Белсату»

«Нам бы [Украине] стоило закрыть границы и с Московией, и с Беларусью ради безопасности наших граждан».Бывший политзаключенный Павел Гриб дал интервью «Белсату»:

Opublikowany przez «Белсат» по-русски Czwartek, 12 września 2019

“I was captured by the bandits from FSB [Russia’s Federal Security Service] on August 24, Ukraine’s Independence Day. A special operation was carried out: they grabbed me and took from the Belarusian city of Homiel to [the Russian town of] Yartsevo.”

Special operation

“I came to the bus station [in Homiel], at which I had arrived earlier. I had a ticket, but I did not manage to cover a few metres. a minibus having the number plates of Russia’s 152nd region [Nizhny Novgorod] drove up. A snatch squad jumped out; they pushed me into the vehicle.

Right then and there, I knew they were from Moscovia [the way Pavlo calls Russia]. I had no doubt.”

Exchange and Russia’s isolation

“One should realize that the country [Russia] seeks to get out of isolation. I would not like the world to face the situation in which the facts of abductions and occupation are taken as given.

Pavlo Hryb, 7 September 2019. Phot.

We should not put up with it for the sake of improving relations, as Moscovia will continue committing crimes, which is simply unacceptable. One should not make concessions to them. We must of its being a thuggish state, and their Security Service, investigative committees, the Ministry of Interior are nothing but a crime family.

Their employees and officers do commit acts which even their [Russian] law criminalizes.

From the very beginning, I had been hoping that the exchange would take place, I just waited for it to happen. I believed that the time would come.

Belarus and region’s future

“Belarus ia a governorate-general of Moscovia, so is Kazakhstan, but to a lesser extent. It is dangerous [for Ukrainians] to visit these states. Unfortunately, some of my relatives living there.

If such things keep occurring , we should close the border with Moscovia and Belarus, because no one can ensure our citizens’ security in these countries.

I would advise those who live in Belarus not to lose hope. In the next then years, everything will change.


In August 2017, Pavlo Hryb went missing in the Belarusian city of Homiel. He was allegedly kidnapped by the Russian 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 pled not guilty.

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

Monika Andruszewska/AA,

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