Blogger from Sevastopol has told about his escape from Crimea

Yuri Ilchenko Yuri Ilchenko

Yuri Ilchenko blogger and teacher from Sevastopol, arrested by the FSB for alleged extremism, has told about his escape from custody and trip to the mainland Ukrainian.

As Ilchenko reported at the press conference, he had been in Ukraine for the past two months, but had not talked to reporters for security reasons until his parents left Crimea too.

In Crimea he spent 11 months in prison for agitation inhabitants of the peninsula against Russian passports.

Also Ilchenko told about his detention in Sevastopol. According to him, his apartment was broke by about 10 people with an agent provocateur among them, who had previously offered him to disseminate flyers in Sevastopol, allegedly on behalf of “the Right Sector”. The search had lasted for four hours. The invaders took all his computers, cell phones and cameras from the apartment.

According to Ilchenko, first he was charged with a post on the Internet calling to blockade Crimea, then with a repost of the leader of “the Right Sector” Dmitry Jarosh’s statement calling to cut off the flow of gas for Crimea.

“All interrogations began with questions, why I had refused a Russian passport,” he said.

Ilchenko said that he had been in the same cell with criminals, who were promised to commute sentence if they forced him to sign whatever he would be told, that he allegedly was the leader of “the Right Sector” in Crimea and planned to blast out the monument to Lenin, etc. Also he was forced to refuse his Ukrainian citizenship.

According to the men, he was beaten and tortured by Russian invaders. “I would rather be blown up by an invader’s trip wired grenade when crossing the border on the way to the Mainland Ukraine than be tortured again. I could withstand physical tortures but not mental torments, when I was called names from dawn till night,” he said. According to him, invaders forbade him to speak Ukrainian.

Ilchenko said that 11 months later, he had been released from remand prison and placed under house arrest with a “bracelet” on to track his movements. He managed to cut off the bracelet and get out of the house unseen. He went on foot through woods, then hitch-hiked to the border of Crimea and managed to cross it “illegally”.

“When I got to the checkpoint, I dropped to my knees, kissed the ground and began to pray to God,” he said. At the border Ilchenko briefly told his story and produced his papers.

As a reminder, the FSB detained Ilchenko, 37-year-old Crimean teacher of foreign languages in July 2015 for a number of his articles condemning the annexation of the peninsula by Russia. He was accused of extremism.

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