Monitoring the case of Daria Mastikasheva (session 07/05/2019)

On July 5, 2019, a hearing was held in the Krasnogvardeisky District Court of the Dnieper in the case of Darya Mastikasheva, a Ukrainian citizen who had lived in Russia before her arrest. She is accused of high treason by recruiting veterans of the anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine (ATO) to simulate the preparation of terrorist attacks in Russia, which the Russian special services could use to discredit the Ukrainian authorities.

As it turned out later, on August 15, 2017, D. Mastikasheva was abducted, masked people with guns blocked her car and took her away in an unknown direction. For several days, she was beaten, strangled, threatened with reprisal against her young son and mother in order to beat out a confession to the alleged crimes. After D. Mastikasheva gave her consent, the video with her confession was shown by the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) V. Gritsak at a press conference in Kiev (held on August 17, 2017), where the head of the SBU reported on the capture of a dangerous spy. Criminal case has been opened on the fact of abduction and torture.

After the facts of the abduction and torture of D. Mastikasheva became known to the general public, the authorities decided to send her for a compulsory psychiatric examination, and then she was held in a psychiatric hospital for a month, where due to refusal to undergo a psychological test, the marker “suicidal tendency” was set in her case, and “penal tendency to escape” in the pre-trial detention center.

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights continue to monitor this lawsuit.

The session began with the presiding judge declaring that, in fact, the case would only be considered in September 2019, and today only the question of the measure of restraint will be decided. The ISHR notes that the defendant’s detention without consideration of the case has essentially been for almost two years, does not comply with the principle of reasonable time for judicial review and contradicts the provisions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The prosecutor read out a request for an extension of the measure of restraint for the accused in the form of 60-day detention, justifying such a requirement by the presence of standard risks that have not decreased over the past time. He also noted that Mastikasheva has a temporary residence permit in the Russian Federation, and therefore can hide from justice in the territory of this state. The prosecutor did not provide any documentary evidence of the existence of such risks.  In total, the petition took 1.5 pages of printed text.

The ISHR notes that this position of the prosecution is contrary to paragraph 3 of Art. 5 of the Convention, according to which, after a certain period, the existence of justified suspicion ceases to be the basis for detention and the courts must give other reasons for the extension of detention (“Yablonsky v. Poland”).

In addition, according to part 3 of article 176, part 1 of article 183 of the CPC, the prosecutor is obliged to prove the risks of obstructing the criminal proceedings and non-fulfillment of personal obligations. And the court cannot apply a measure of restraint in the form of detention if there is no factual justification for such risks.

Lawyer V. Rybin protested, because the prosecutor’s petition did not say anything about why it is impossible to apply a different measure of restraint, which does not comply with the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine. He recalled the need to prove the existence of risks, which the prosecution did not do. In addition, the lawyer referred to the decision of the Constitutional Court of 06.25.2019 on the recognition of the provisions of part 5 of article 166 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine as non-alternative to the content of persons in pre-trial detention centers, suspected of committing crimes related to state security and the fact that the courts in Ukraine have already begun to widely apply this decision so as not to unreasonably detain people who have not committed violent crimes. Rybin also said that the words of the prosecutor about Mastikasheva’s temporary residence permit in Russia are untrue, since the term of it expired on July 3, two days before the session. The passports of the accused were seized, so she cannot leave the country. All property of the accused is arrested, and if she will escape from justice, it will go to the state. Regarding the pressure on witnesses, the lawyer expressed doubt that a fragile woman is capable of exerting pressure on men participating veterans of hostilities in the ATO zone. Mastikasheva has strong social ties in Ukraine. Since her arrest, her young daughter has been raised by her grandmother for almost two years. Rybin also recalled the abduction of Mastikasheva until her detention, torture and coercion to plead guilty to video recording.

At the request of the prosecutor, Daria Mastikasheva herself stated that in two years of imprisonment no one had proved her guilt.

The court decided to leave the accused in custody for another 60 days.

According to the ECtHR, an extension of detention under these conditions should be considered “arbitrary”, since the need for such an extension was not proven in specific circumstances (“Khairedinov v. Ukraine”). In the same decision, the Court recalls that there is a presumption in favor of release. Before conviction, a person should be presumed innocent and should be released as soon as his\her further detention ceases to be justified (“Vlasov v. Russia”). The ECtHR unequivocally stated in its decisions that the failure of the court to consider any alternative measures of restraint in custody constitutes a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the European Convention (“Sinkova v. Ukraine”).

Experts from the International Society for Human Rights will continue to monitor this trial. Previous reports can be found here.