Closed Zone?

Last night Vasyl Ovsiyenko, member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group and former political prisoner who spent more than 13 years in Soviet labour camps and prisons, was removed by Russian border guards from a train from Moscow to Bryansk. The border guards sent him back to Ukraine having found his name on a list of people refused entry to the Russian Federation.

Vasyl Ovsienko was travelling to the village of Kuchyno in the Perm region, to the Museum of the History of Political Repression and Totalitarianism open since 1996 in part of Perm-36, the especially harsh regime labour camp. Mr Ovsiyenko was himself a prisoner in that camp from 1981-1987. It is the camp in which the poet Vasyl Stus died, which played a major part in the deaths of Oleksa Tykyhy, Yury Lytvyn and Valery Marchenko.  Other Ukrainian human rights defenders imprisoned there included Levko Lukyanenko, Mykhailo Horyn, Ivan Kandyba, Ivan Sokulsky and Ivan Hel.


Mr Ovsiyenko has been at the Perm-36 Museum several times, the last time being in 2005, and he is a member of its Council. He had been invited by the Director of the Museum to take part in an International Civic Forum.


It can be assumed that the Russian Security Services have been following Vasyl Ovsiyenko’s publications.


It would also seem that they have little concern for the principles enshrined in their own Constitution, especially those of freedom of expression.

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