European Interest

Parliament: Russia must release jailed Ukrainian minors Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov

© European Union 2023 - Source : EP-151968C Photographer: Mathieu CUGNOT

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on torture and criminal prosecution of Ukrainian minors Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov by the Russian Federation.

On May 24, 2023,two teenagers, Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov, both born in 2006, in the temporarily occupied city of Berdiansk, Zaporizhzhia region, were charged by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation with accusations of allegedly planning to sabotage the railway. The indictment was preceded by several months of bullying, detention, and torture of the children and their families. Local lawyers were appointed for the children, one of whom offered to self-incriminate, reports the Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR).

MIHR first reported the situation on 25 May, the day after Russia’s ‘Investigative Committee’ formally charged the two lads with ‘sabotage’, under Article 281 of Russia’s criminal code. Russia has been violating international law since 2014 through its illegal application of its legislation on occupied territory and this time the two victims of an arsenal of torture, terror and fabricated charges are only 16.

The investigator claims that the boys jointly damaged the railroad tracks to prevent the Russian armed forces from receiving material supplies. Russian investigators are in a hurry to bring the case to court, writes MIHR press release. In fact, the boys were left face-to-face with the Russian repressive machine, as the lawyers appointed by the investigator did not provide defense, which is not surprising given the atmosphere of fear that prevails in the Russian-occupied territories.

Media Initiative for Human Rights calls on the international community to take all possible public and non-public measures to release Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov from persecution by the Russian authorities as soon as possible and to ensure their unimpeded travel to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government or to a third country.

MEPs condemn Russia

Parliament demands that the proceedings against Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov should end and the charges against them be dismissed. The two Ukrainian were teenagers detained last year and accused by Russian authorities of allegedly planning to damage railway infrastructure in Berdiansk. MEPs urge the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to facilitate the safe return of the two jailed minors, who have been subjected to beatings and electroshock torture and face up to 20 years in prison.

Parliament calls for the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children to investigate their case and demands that those responsible for prosecuting the two teenagers be included on the EU sanctions list. Additionally, they ask for the release of all Ukrainian citizens unlawfully detained by Russia.

MEPs also condemn Russia for deporting children to Russian or Belarusian territory, illegal adoptions and so-called “re-education” measures. They call again for an EU-Ukraine Child Protection Package for children fleeing or affected by the war and for the EU to intensify its commitment to preventing and ending grave violations against children in war zones.

The resolution was adopted by 425 votes in favour, 3 against and 15 abstentions. For more details, the full text will be available here. (15.06.2023)

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