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Two collaborators complicit in kidnapping Oleh Baturyn sentenced to 12 years in prison

03.04.2024, 16:37
Oleh Baturyn. Photo by Maksym Savchenko
Oleh Baturyn. Photo by Maksym Savchenko

The Suvorov District Court of Odesa sentenced two Ukrainian citizens in absentia to 12 years in prison for ordering the kidnapping of "Novy Den" journalist Oleh Baturyn for his pro-Ukrainian stance in March 2022 in Kakhovka.

The judgement was passed on March 27, 2024, reports the Public Interest Journalism Laboratory.

The court convicted the Nova Kakhovka occupation administration chair (until the fall of 2022) Volodymyr Leontiev and the so-called "advisor to the DPR governor" Valentyn Motuzenko of crimes against civilians in the territories occupied in the course of a military aggression, as well as of violating the laws and customs of war and international humanitarian law.

Oleh Baturyn was a victim in the case. He testified during the trial. In the spring of 2022, while the Kherson oblast was occupied, Russians also forcibly abducted the Tavriysk Mayor Mykola Rizak and the Nova Kakhovka City Council Secretary Dmytro Vasyliev.

The men were held captive and subjected to physical violence: severely beaten, handcuffed and restrained for a long time, deprived of water and food and harrassed psychologically. Dmytro Vasyliev died nine months after being released, but the testimony he gave to the police was read aloud in court.

The court ruled that the defendants' complicity in the crimes was proven: they gave the orders, which makes them the organizers of systematic repression against Ukrainian citizens, residents of the occupied Kherson oblast.

Valentyn Motuzenko and Volodymyr Leontiev were not in the courtroom, the judgement was announced in absentia.

Commenting on the court's ruling, Oleh Baturyn expressed hope that the Ukrainian judiciary will one day be able to identify and bring to justice not only the organizers, but also the rest of the perpetrators.

"In my opinion, the prison term is too short and does not reflect all the crimes committed by Motuzenko and Leontiev. But I am sure that this is only the first ruling, and that makes me happy. Leontiev is charged with other crimes, which means that new sentences should come shortly. What matters to me personally is that the Russians have basically punished Motuzenko already. He had been 'on the run' since the summer of 2022, and in the spring of 2023 he was thrown into a torture basement, which, judging by everything, he will not leave. This is the 'Russian world' that he so longed for. I am sure that sooner or later Leontiev will be written off from this world by his own Russian handlers," said Oleh Baturyn.

The kidnapping of Oleh Baturyn

Oleh Baturyn is a journalist with the newspaper Novy Den. He was kidnapped on March 12, 2022 in Kakhovka. He was released on March 20.

Baturyn is convinced that he was kidnapped and held captive for eight days due to his reporting and vocal political stance. While in captivity, Oleh was handcuffed to a heating battery, questioned, threatened with violence, beaten and unlawfully detained for a week. According to Baturyn, both Motuzenko and Volodymyr Leontiev threatened to kill him.

The police opened criminal proceedings under Part 1 of Art. 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws and customs of war). Later, the law enforcers issued a suspicion notice to the so-called "advisor to the DPR governor", Valentyn Motuzenko, who gave the order to kidnap Baturyn due to his active citizenship and professional reporting.

Oleh has also said that the Russian troops occupying the Kherson oblast had lists of local journalists.

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