Luhansk patriot Vlad Ovcharenko has been in the dungeons of the so-called "LNR" for 13 months already. In August of the last year, a guy burned a tricolor of militants and made a photo in the center of occupied Luhansk with the flag of Ukraine - for this the occupants sentenced him to 17 years in prison.
November 24, Vlad will be 21 years old - this is the second birthday, which he will meet in the dungeons of militants. Mother of the captive patriot Victoria Ovcharenko told reporters of IA "Vchasno" about how the "trial" took place over her son and how she struggles for year for his salvation.
"Vlad and his friends burned the flag of the "LNR" in memory of the deceased friend, - the patriot's mother says. - They had an acquaintance friend, he fought for Ukraine and died. And on the birthday of this guy in memory of him guys burned the flag, recorded it on video. Then Vlad in the city center made a photo with the flag of Ukraine. This was in August last year. And on October 10, 2016, he was seized for this".
IA "Vchasno": Vlad was taken from the house?
Victoria Ovcharenko: No, October 10 at 10 am he went to a meeting with the girl, said he would be back in an hour and a half and disappeared. At first I thought that he was delayed, he could have met someone, or he had been offered a job, he was looking for a job, maybe the phone was simply discharged. And already at two o'clock in the afternoon I realized that something had happened. A few days before, he had said that he was threatened on the Internet in some comments, but did not give details. I called my husband to work, said that Vlad was missing. I was just shaking, my heart was stopping. I began to call the police, hospitals. And at six o'clock in the evening they came to us with a search.
- Did they immediately tell you for what Vlad was accused?
- They said only that with a search they came in the case of the son. They showed a some sort of a warrant, but I did not understand what was there. And even if I tried not to let them in, they would not listen to me. There were a lot of them in uniform, the neighbors later said that there were several cars on the street. I only asked: "Is Vlad alive?". One of them answered through his teeth: "More than". And the questions "Where is he? For what is he accused of?” they answered that the investigator will contact us.
- What were confiscated?
- The system block from the computer, the flag of Ukraine, some disks that Vlad had, my printout in the file - the flag of Ukraine with the Cossack. Then they returned everything, even the flag of Ukraine. Did not return only the system block and Vlad's phone.
- Was Vlad's arrest unexpected for you?
- No. Vlad did not support what was happening, and I did not support what was happening. Vlad even wrote articles for a German magazine in English about how he lives in Luhansk, as it was before and what has changed with the coming of the "LNR".
The whole district knew that our family was for the integrity of Ukraine. Maybe someone also brought it (to militants), some did not like it. But I think so, but what really happened, I do not know. Because of this I wanted my son to leave. Vlad had to leave the city in September, but the trip had to be postponed for a month and a half. And my husband and I planned to leave a little later, we wanted to save more money. It turned out that I was left without work, and Vlad fired from the restaurant, because it closed after the curfew, and it was dangerous to return home. Our husband worked only for us. But we did not have time to collect money and leave.
Vlad was accused of treachery of the "LNR" and a work for "a foreign state".
- Were you also interrogated?
- We did not wait until we were called, and the next day we went to the “MGB LNR” (“Ministry for State Security”), because I saw the chevron of the “MGB” on the one of those who came with the search. We did not get intelligible answers, but we continued to go there and ask, and on our third visit they apparently understood that we would not back off and took us to the investigator. Then we found out that our son was accused of "treachery".
- What were you asked about?
- They asked me about Vlad, they asked everything from the very beginning. Even how he was born, was he healthy. I got sick from these questions, why did they ask these? Vlad was born perfectly healthy, he did sports, football, did not smoke. They asked about our political views. I said that I support the integrity of Ukraine, but they knew it already then. They said, we know that your whole family is looking in one direction. I asked: "In what my son is accused?". The investigator told me: "He worked for a foreign state". It even made me laugh. I asked: "For America, or what?". They answered: "No, for Ukraine."
- Do you believe in that?
- He was incriminated accusations that he worked for the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine. How can anyone believe this? When the war began, he was 17 years old, he did not even serve in the army. They also came up with the idea that Vlad had been trained in some military camps. I watched the video of the interrogations that were posted on the website of the “MGB”, all son's friends were put blame on him. Perhaps, therefore, they were all released - only Vlad and Artem Akhmirov were convicted. But even Artyom kept pouring blame on Vlad, in one video Artem told that Vlad in June 2014 was engaged in a sabotage Ukrainian camp in Chuguevo.
In fact, in June 2014 my son defended his diploma in a culinary lyceum. I then called the investigator and said: "Why are you lying? It can not be that, because I have documents that refute it”. And immediately the video from their site has disappeared. "
- Did you get a permission to see the son?
- The meeting with my son was only allowed after 13 months! For two months we did not know at all what happened to him, in what condition he was - very afraid for his health and life. We immediately appealed, wherever possible - to the OSCE, the Red Cross, the UN, to call friends in Ukraine, so that they somehow helped. And then every two months the Vlad’s detention was prolong, for this he was carried out to the court.
We were not allowed to go to court, and I calculated when there could be a meeting and ran to the court building, leaflets with the time of meetings and surnames were hang out. And if I saw that they will bring Vlad, I would call my husband, and we would wait in court to see him from afar. And that he saw us and knew that we did not abandon him.
- Did the lawyer and the investigator tell you anything?
- The lawyer told us that he is very busy and does not remember what is there in the case of Vlad. We learned more from those who were released from the SIZO. We approached, asked, sometimes met people who were in the cell with Vlad, they told us about him, about his business. Courts were closed, we were not allowed. I do not know on what grounds, but he was tried by a military court. October 25, sentence was imposed - 17 years of strict regime. I learned that everyone with such verdicts, like Vlad's, is transferred to the place where they are imprisoned for life - where there are repeat offenders. That's why I appeal to everyone who I can, so that Vlad can soon be exchanged.
- What were you reported at the Center for the Exchange of Prisoners?
- I'm calling there all the time, I guess I'm already bored with it. I were told that Vlad is on the list for exchange. I constantly communicate with the staff of the UN Office in Luhansk, where they can not especially help me. The OSCE planned to visit Vlad, but their employees were not allowed to visit him. Although we were given a meeting before that - the first in 13 months. We were able to talk to him, but basically we spoke by ourselves - how we are fighting for his release. He said that the only hope is an exchange. I did not dare to ask whether they beat him in the cell or not, knocked out the confession, because I realized that there must be a camera somewhere, our conversation can be listened to. But he looks healthy, although, of course, pale and thin. Not the same as before.
- You can not leave Luhansk to personally meet in Kyiv with those who are engaged in the exchange of prisoners?
- I can not, because I'm afraid that they will not let me go back, and then the son will stay here all alone. I hand over of the goods every week, and sometimes twice a week. There are such queues, people come from the region, from afar. Now there are fewer people, and in the winter it was necessary to take up the queue at 6 am. And not everyone who is sitting there has relatives. Therefore, I always try to transfer more to Vlad. For example, every week I put him a block of cigarettes, although he does not smoke so he can share. Vlad is not "keep everything to oneself”, he always helps those who are around.
- Who did Vlad plan to become before the war?
- He wanted to become a catering technologist, graduated from the trade and culinary lyceum with the specialty of cook. He was an excellent student at school, he was the best in the class. I wanted him to finish 11 classes and then go to institute, but Vlad said that he wants to master all the subtleties of the profession, starting with the basics, and after the 9th went to the Lyceum. He had many hobbies - he was engaged in chess, and played football. Dreamed of getting into the team. But the war changed everything.
To me these are the ones who came with a search, said that I did not raise my son well, but I believe, and many will agree with me that my son is good. When Vlad was still at school, I was told by teachers that he had such a character that if he was sure that he was right, he would prove the truth. Therefore, he probably could not reconcile himself with the occupation of Luhansk. And, probably, even in captivity did not abandon his convictions, since he was given such a long term. I have not thought about what will happen tomorrow, but I would like Vlad to be exchanged for our family to leave the occupation. To all these nightmares will be over. I have only hope for an exchange, there is no other way to save my son.