Valentyn Vyhivskyi, Ukrainian political prisoner in Russia since 2014
FSB officers believe that if they captured a person, he or she will work for them
04.08.2020 17:45

Vyhivskyi is a "veteran" among Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. He has been in Russian torture chambers for almost six years. He is set to stay there for five more years. Valentyn has already gone through pressure and torture. Even now, they greatly complicate his detention conditions. Nevertheless, Vyhivskyi holds on and rejects any offers for cooperation.

On August 3, he, a smart and energetic man, turned 37. He has to mark his birthday behind bars for the sixth time. However, we want the voice of the political prisoner to be heard in Ukraine! That's why we are publishing excerpts of a letter recently received by his brother Mykhailo, as well as his Mom and Dad (Valentyn writes these words with a capital letter). Vyhivskyi is honest, accurate and tough in his assessments. He regularly trolls his opponents. It is demonstrative that Vyhivskyi's criticism of Russian realities and predictions of the sad future of the Russian Federation were mentioned separately in his conviction. To soothe the pain, the author often uses emojis.

Read this amazing document! I am sure that one day, after Vyhivskyi's release, this letter should take a worthy place in the National Museum of the History of Ukraine.


Letter! Hello, Family! What's new with you (besides coronavirus, of course ☺)? I hope you received my "depressive letter" from 01.06.2020 (1 sheet), and before it there were two more letters ☺. FSB officers finally gave me the latest letter from Misha [Mykhailo]. When they were giving me the letter, a local operative asked me a few questions about its content. This confirms the fact that your and my letters are carefully studied. That's why I'm going to write with even smaller letters so that FSB officers strain their eyes to the fullest, but they still can't see beyond the end of their noses ☺…

It's childish to believe that putting me in bad conditions for a long time will lead to my desire to work for this country [Russia]. Can't they still understand that I don't want to have anything to do with them and their country? The more I stay here, the more I wholeheartedly I hate the totalitarian Russian way of life and eternal Russian show and respect for rank. In this system, everything is imbued with hypocrisy and stupidity, and in general, I am absolutely convinced that it is impossible for a modern intelligent person to live in a Russian style. I firmly believe that modern Russia has no moral or human right to lecture the entire civilized democratic world (the Kremlin is trying to think differently but these are their own problems☺).

The state leadership constantly has complexes about Russia's "unworthy place" in the world. Therefore, they subconsciously project these complexes on the surrounding reality, including their country, which has deeply degraded. In my opinion, (this country) occupies a worthy place in the global context. A primitive commodity economy with an authoritarian political regime and 1.5% of world GDP a priori has no right to claim for anything more than the edge of civilization ☺. At the same time, they allow themselves to go to other countries, imposing their serfdom.

Honestly, I was a little surprised by the fact that FSB officers don't want to free me under any pretext, especially knowing that I'm not a member of the secret services (I like doing business more ☺). In general, I am a little surprised that I am of such value to Russia ☺. On the other hand, it's a little nice (but very little ☺). Local FSB officers sincerely believe that if they capture a person, then this person is already "theirs," saying that he or she will work for them. But this is a bit of a bummer for them: It turns out that there are principled people who, despite everything, do not go over to the "dark side" (like in the Star Wars franchise, only the voice of Darth Vader needs to be adjusted ☺). It is absolutely unacceptable for people to serve the enemy who has killed and maimed so many of our and their young men. In general, dear Chekists, this is the last time I am officially (and in writing) informing you of my final NO!


By the way, the Chekists generally like to use the expression "spent material." In addition, they consider themselves to be very smart. In general, of course, it is saddening to the world community to see such a "serious country", which has a large number of talented and intelligent people, suffer under a rigid authoritarian regime of a dictator who has gone against the civilized developed world, opposing itself to the logic of modern civilization - and all just for the sake of hypercompensation for the complexes of the nation's chief of state. That is, about an eighth of the entire country and about 140 million people, thanks to the will of their Kremlin boss, followed the path of building a "Juche state", like in the DPRK.

The local arbitrariness of the security forces and the clumsy repressive state apparatus will lead to the collapse and disintegration of the Russian Federation, and this is a completely natural process. If Russia does not put their impudent security forces in their place and does not carry out the most important structural reforms in the near future, the result will be extremely sad - a complete repetition of the fate of the USSR. Their security forces, like worms inside a rotten tree, have themselves (better than any enemies combined ☺) destroyed the pier of this huge state colossus! In the near historical perspective, we will all see it collapse.

Misha, I understand that this seems incredible to Mom and Dad, but I ask you to take into account the following fact. The Russian leadership really believes (!) that it is waging a "real covert war" with the insolent West so they allow themselves to use different unlawful methods of waging this war. Of course, in reality, no one in the West wishes Russia anything bad and would like to see this country as a full-fledged and adequate business partner, rather than an international outcast. But the one who is setting the goals here is a mad leader, and there are many people with Stalinist thinking in his entourage. So we have what we have: the use of all kinds of poisons abroad by the Russian special services, undeclared ordered provocations and cyber attacks, bringing the intensity of propaganda to the point of absurdity, conducting hybrid wars, etc. All this is done illegally, in violation of all codes and standards of decency!

Of course, when you just work from day to day, you will not come across the other side of the real world order, undercover intrigues between ambitious powers. You do not want to know all this, but to live life in peace, according to the scenario "home → work → minibus → sausages + a bottle of beer → fishing for carp on a stinking lake → a vegetable garden" ☺. But life itself sometimes decides differently and makes a choice for you... Thus, if the Russian people do not take any radical steps in the coming years, schoolchildren will learn rhymes about the nation's leader and the ruling party ☺.


It's funny, but many Chekists and local figures consider us Ukrainians as traitors in the sense that we do not want to be together with great Russia, to savor the "great past" in poverty and imprisoned and to be together with this country (more precisely, under it ☺). At the end of one of the closed court hearings, a state prosecutor (it was a woman ☺) unofficially approached me and said the following (I told my Mom this story earlier ☺): "Young man, why do you need to go to prison? You would better serve your motherland!" I only opened my mouth in surprise and wanted to answer: "What kind of Russia is my motherland, you silly woman?"... ☺. But she didn't let me say it and quickly blurted out: "It does not matter which motherland (!!!). It's better than being in jail." And she quickly left. I was impressed by the thesis "it does not matter which motherland." For me, my motherland is Ukraine and, to be more precise, a Ukraine independent of Russia! And one more thing, I will not allow anyone to kill our young guys - the time will come when the Russian Federation will pay dearly for this. [Yan Damansky, Vyhovskyi's second cousin, died near Savur-Mohyla in Donbas in 2014 ... ( ...]

By the way, about the Stalinists: At a prison "hospital" [in Kirovo-Chepetsk], a week before my departure, the chief of the operative unit called me for a conversation in a special operative room, where on the wall next to the already familiar "Iron Felix" hung ... an ancient portrait of Stalin!!! That is, you can already imagine the standards to which they adhere in the provision of medical care. One can also add to this impressive portrait the nicknames of some doctors, like "Pasha Grob" ['grob' means 'coffin' in English] and "Archangel Michael" ☺, and also the exotic location of this unique medical facility - right opposite the pipes and chemical installations of the Kirovo-Chepetsk Chemical Combine, which buzzed and smelled bad around the clock. And I could see all that through large windows. We had an asthmatic in our ward, a poor fellow. He even stopped hiding his inhaler.


I heard on the radio here that there is a trend in the world towards the demolition of monuments to historical figures on the basis of a reassessment of approaches to racial discrimination. In Russia, for such "subversive acts" activists would have been charged with terrorism and put in prison for many years.

I also heard that NATO had granted Ukraine the status of an "extended opportunities partner" (something like that ☺), which means the failure of the Kremlin with its war in Donbas. They will definitely not fulfill their main goal of "anchoring" Ukraine on its way to the EU and NATO. They also like to talk about "democracy in Crimea" (this is about that fake referendum), where people are already whining loudly from the delights of Putin's "Russian world," while Crimean residents swiftly replenish the population of local prisons.

I am also aware of the phone call of the Consul or Mom (it's nice that they don't forget me ☺). But I have already wasted this summer, the sea and my birthday. By the way, Misha, "at the hospital" on TV, which I haven't watched for more than four years (!!!), I saw a program about the U.S. city of Tampa (you wrote to me about it earlier ☺) - it seemed to me very nice and generally a good option, especially given that there is a very good beach (one of the best beaches) there. And this is important for me after many years of "suffering and hardships" in this "Russian s***" ☺.

This summer marks exactly 20 years since I graduated from school. It feels like this time passed very quickly - and all my life will pass like that ☺). Also, one Muscovite "fan" has written to me in the last few months, sometimes two letters a week ☺. By the way, she is smart and is a connoisseur of fine art although I'm not particularly knowledgeable about this ☺. And I myself began to write with my left hand in order to improve my cognitive functions and create a serious additional shock for the brain. I read about this in some scientific journal (I recommend that you try it ☺).

By the way, Happy Birthday to Mom - I really hope that I can congratulate her personally. However, upon return, there would still be a two-week quarantine. And it will take me at least a month to recover after six years in prison.

Do not forget about my birthday, it is very soon. But the point is not in the birthday, but in the fact that this is a good reason to remember me and talk about my return ☺.

IK-11, village of Utrobino, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Kirov Oblast, 613040, Russia


An Ukrinform journalist who served his term in the same penal colony talks about Valentyn Vyhovskyi and detention conditions at IK-11 (Penal Colony No. 11).

- I personally know Valentyn Vyhovskyi. He once passed by my cell. He managed to knock on the door, shout out his name, surname and said that he was from Ukraine, from Kyiv. Later, a few weeks later, we came across each other during meetings with a representative of the public observation commission in the Kirov Oblast, Artur Abashev. Valentyn was returning from the meeting, and I was taken to it. We just greeted each other, I saw him for the first time, a cheerful young man, self-confident, friendly, well developed physically (everything that I could see in a minute).

We were able to talk two weeks later - in the shower. The prisoners were taken there twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, for 20 minutes. During this time, you need to have time not only to take a shower, wash clothes and linen, but also exchange the latest news "from freedom"... Vyhovskyi briefly told about his story, and I told him about mine. He left a very positive impression on me.

A couple of days later, my neighbor and I were transferred to a cell next to Valentyn's. We could talk through poorly plastered heating pipe holes. Valentyn turned out to be an educated man, well versed in technology, especially aviation. We discussed international events with him, recalling Ukraine, Kyiv, relatives and friends. He spoke about his detention in Crimea, beatings during detention by FSB officers, torture, transfer to Lefortovo, and other episodes of his life in prison.

Valentyn is a person with incredible willpower, with his life principles, bright ideas, and an optimistic vision. Despite strict detention conditions, he managed to maintain human relations with other prisoners, warders, some operatives and representatives of the IK-11 administration. I am not talking about cooperation. I am talking about a dignified attitude towards the situation in which a person finds himself and towards the environment. Valentyn did not lose his dignity and was respected among the prisoners, including repeat offenders, warders, doctors and the rest of the staff of the maximum-security penal colony in Utrobino.

It so happened that six months before my transfer, Vyhovskyi was framed by FSB officers, together with local operatives. They arranged a provocation for him aimed at worsening his detention conditions. They slipped him a mobile phone, and then tracked it down, seized it during a search and moved Vyhovskyi to a cell-type room for six months. Then this period was constantly extended. He was kept in solitary confinement almost constantly. This is a very serious psychological pressure. It has disastrous consequences for the human psyche. Imagine - a person is confined for 20-22 hours. Restrictions included two short-term meetings with loved ones a year, three food parcels a year, a limit of up to 5,000 rubles for shopping in a local store, bans on communication with other inmates, and much more.

Valentyn was consistent and principled in defending his rights at IK-11... While I was in the colony, I saw Valentyn hold on courageously. But a person's strengths are not unlimited, and it is not easy for him to be in such a situation for six years. There were nervous breakdowns, but he pulled himself together and continued to struggle for survival, hoping for a prisoner exchange. Valentyn read a lot and went to play sports. I'm pretty sure he won't break. He is a real hero and an example to follow, a patriot who loves Ukraine, who speaks of his family with respect and love.

P.S. On August 3, on the occasion of the 37th birthday of the political prisoner, an action titled "Paper planes for Vyhivskyi" was held on Independence Square in Kyiv.

Oleg Kudrin

Photo credit: the archive of the Vyhivskyi family, Hennadii Minchenko

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