– Mr. Potekhin, last year you were held in captivity in Donetsk for 48 days and right now your case is being decided by European Court of Human Rights. Can you tell us who are you suing?
– I’m suing first of all Russia, of course, for the terrorist operation. This terrorist organisation is doing a terrorist operation in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and Ukraine – for the failure to provide rule of law on these territories.
– How did you come up with idea of suing Russia in the European Court Of Human Rights?
– It’s natural because Russia annexed the Crimea and Russia is helping the terrorists in Donetsk, and Russia itself is a terrorist organization basically. We still for some reasons call it ‘country’, for some reasons this organization has its diplomats in the UN Security Council, and here in Kyiv, but actually they are not diplomats, they are representing Russia, but they are representing not a country, they are now representing terrorist organization called Russia.
Continue reading How a concentration camp in Donetsk works
METTA SPENCER: It’s great that you made it out okay. I was worried. Tell me about it.
DMYTRO POTEKHIN: One hour before I was to take a train back to Kyiv, I took a picture of a hotel where I had stayed several years ago. The rebels were there and one of them saw me. They arrested me on the assumption that I was a spy.
They handcuffed me and put a bag on my head, took me to the restaurant in the basement. For several hours they questioned me and threatened to beat me, but then they got interested in my stories and changed their behavior. They removed the bag from my head. I spent the night in one of the rooms of that empty hotel. In the morning they blindfolded and handcuffed me, and took me to another place were I was interrogated by several other people. Then they brought me to a former factory, where I spent 48 days.
SPENCER: How truthful were you about your own politics?
Continue reading A Peace Activist’s War
On August 7, hours after arriving in rebel-controlled Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine Dmytro Potekhin, a civic activist from Kiev, wandered past the Liverpool Hotel, a boutique guest house – now apparently abandoned – where he once stayed with a girlfriend. He took out his camera. That was a big mistake.
A rebel with a machine gun emerged and demanded to see Mr Potekhin’s passport. Spotting Mr Potekhin’s Kiev registration stamp, the man grabbed him, pulled a bag over his head, and took him into the empty hotel where he was held overnight.
After a brief interrogation the next day, Mr Potekhin was taken to what locals call the “isolator” – the basement of an arts centre near downtown Donetsk that separatists have turned into a security base and, in effect, a dungeon.
So began 48 days of what seems scarcely imaginable in 21st-century Europe: forced labour, intimidation and humiliation, as hostage of the Russian-backed separatists who control Ukraine’s southeast corner.
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