Sunday 23 April 2017, 15:30
Ukrainian Cultural Centre, 154 Holland Park Ave, London W11
Mr Hennadii Afanasiev
Former political prisoner in Russia
Advisor to Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin
Then 23-year-old Crimean photographer Hennadii Afanasiev was not engaged in political activities or protests in early 2014. It was not until the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, and Russia’s subsequent occupation of Crimea, that he joined the movement to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Along with taking part in street rallies, he purchased and delivered food and other essentials to Ukrainian servicemen trapped in their Crimean bases by Russia’s “little green men”. He was detained in Crimea by Russia’s FSB on 9 May 2014, and convicted of plotting a terrorist act against Crimea’s new Russian authorities.
Since the very first days of his detention Hennadii was beaten, tortured, threatened and abused. His case had initially been part of a separate proceeding where he agreed to make a deal with the prosecution, but later revealed that he had been tortured and forced to give false testimony against others involved in the case – fellow political prisoners Oleg Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko. In December 2014, Moscow City Court sentenced him to seven years in a penal colony. After 767 days in captivity, Hennadii arrived in Ukraine on 14 June 2016 after being swapped with two individuals charged with supporting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Hennadii Afanasiev is now an activist and a member of a Ukrainian NGO that fights for the freedom of Ukrainian political prisoners and against human rights abuses in Crimea. He is also an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the release of political prisoners. Hennadii is currently travelling around Europe and America to bring attention to cases of political prisoners held by Russia and its policy of torture and abuse.