In 2014, Russia occupied the Ukrainian Crimea and fueled the war in the East of Ukraine. The restoration of the Soviet totalitarian regime began in the occupied territories: fear, powerlessness and hopelessness, as well as terror against dissidents, brutal violations of their rights and freedoms, arrests and imprisonment.
During the war Ukraine managed to liberate 3,379 of its citizens from the prisons and torture chambers in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories and in Russia. 14 of them are the heroes of the exhibition. They survived and did not break. They remained FREE and not only in dreams, but in life were able to give an answer to what FREEDOM means to them…
Writer, journalist and blogger. In 2014 he stayed in the occupied city of Donetsk. He collaborated with the Ukrainian media, describing the events that took place in the territory not controlled by Ukraine. In May 2017, he was abducted by terrorists of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and accused of “espionage in favor of Ukraine”.
Sentenced to 15 years in prison. He spent 28 months in prison at the former Isolation Art Center in Donetsk, where separatists set up a torture chamber. Released on December 29, 2019 as part of an exchange
Ukrainian public activist. After the occupation of Crimea, he refused to receive a Russian passport. He mounted the flag of Ukraine and a sign “Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred Street, 18” on his own estate. Detained in December 2016 by Russian forces and accused of “illegal storage of ammunition” planted in his attic
Sentenced to 3 years and 7 months in prison. In July 2018, a court found him guilty of “beating the head of the detention center” and sentenced him to 5 years in prison. He went on a hunger strike twice. He was serving his sentence in сorrectional colony № 4, Torzhok (Tver Oblast, Russia). Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
The Crimean Tatar, the resident of the Kherson region. He also has a disability. His wife, Gulnara Bekirova, is a member of the Majlis – the representative body of the Crimean Tatars. In December 2018, he was detained by Russian forces during a private visit to the occupied Crimea.
He was arrested on suspicion in the case of “storage and transfer of explosives and ammunition”. Detained in the Simferopol pre-trial detention center. On August 27, 2019, he was released on bail. Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
Participant of the Revolution of Dignity, during which he joined the “Right Sector”. He was detained in March 2014 at the entrance to Russia. Sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for “participation in hostilities during the First Chechen War on the side of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria”.
He told the court that his evidence was obtained through torture and threats of reprisal against his family. He was serving his sentence in Vladimir Central Prison, Vladimir (Russia). Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
Participant of the pro-Ukrainian rallies in Crimea in 2014. Detained by Russian security forces in May 2014 as a participant of the Sentsov case. Sentenced to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges.
He was serving his sentence in the correctional colony № 6, Kopeysk (Chelyabinsk region, Russia). He went on a hunger strike demanding the release of Oleg Sentsov. Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
Participant of the Revolution of Dignity. In April 2014, as a member of the 1st Reserve Battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine, he went to the East as a volunteer. Sergeant, Deputy Platoon Commander. He took part in the fights near Sloviansk. On June 30, 2017, he was arrested at Bologna airport (Italy) on suspicion of involvement in the deaths of an Italian reporter and a Russian human rights activist and the wounding of a French photographer in the terrorist-occupied Ukrainian territory in May 2014.
Without convincing evidence, he was sentenced to 24 years of imprisonment by the Italian court. On November 3, 2020, the Milan Court of Appeal acquitted him of all charges. Returned to Ukraine.
The resident of Luhansk. In February 2018, she was arrested by terrorists during the distribution of leaflets “Donbas, Russia has betrayed you! Choose the future, choose Ukraine!”. Sentenced to 16 years in prison for “committing a number of crimes: treason, spying for Ukraine, public appeals to extremist activities” etc.
She was detained in the so-called “Luhansk Penitentiary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Luhansk People's Republic”. Released on December 29, 2019 due to exchange.
In 2014–2015 – the participant of hostilities in eastern Ukraine. Volunteer, since 2016 – the head of the NGO “Energodar Association – Defenders of Ukraine”. In August 2016, he was detained by Russian security forces at the entrance to the occupied Crimea as a member of the “sabotage and terrorist group of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which was preparing a terrorist attack”.
He “testified” on video after the brutal torture. Sentenced to 8 years in prison. He was serving his sentence in the correctional colony № 6, Omsk (Russia). Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
From September 2014, he took part in hostilities in eastern Ukraine. In January 2015, he was captured while defending the Donetsk airport. He was kept in the basement of the former archive of the Security Service of Ukraine in Donetsk (now the prison of the so-called “Ministry of the State Security of the Donetsk People’s Republic”). From June 22, 2016 – in Makiivka correctional colony № 97.
During the five years of captivity he was included in exchange lists at least three times. On August 1, 2019, the trial of the “Appeals Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic” took place, according to which he was found guilty of a number of “crimes: terrorism, murder, extremist acts” etc. Sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was serving his sentence in Makiivka correctional colony № 32. Released on December 29, 2019 due to exchange.
Film director, screenwriter, writer. Participant of the Revolution of Dignity. In his home city of Simferopol, where Russia was already taking the first steps toward occupation of the peninsula, he organized rallies in support of Ukraine's unity. Detained by Russian security forces in May 2014.
Sentenced to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges. He served his sentence in the correctional colony № 8, Labytnangi (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia). In April 2018, he went on a 145-day hunger strike. Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
Mine worker from the Luhansk region. After the beginning of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, he became an active participant of the partisan movement. In August 2016, he was captured by terrorists and taken to Russia.
He was accused of “preparing terrorist attacks in the Rostov region, illegal border crossing and illegal possession of explosives”. Sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was serving his sentence in the correctional colony № 19, Markovo village (Irkutsk region, Russia). Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
The native of the Luhansk region. In the occupied city of Pervomaisk, she put up pro-Ukrainian leaflets and stickers. In October 2018, she was abducted by terrorists and thrown into the ‘basement’ of the so-called “Ministry of the State Security” in Luhansk.
Sentenced to 13 years in prison for “extremism and sabotage in favor of the Ukrainian secret services”. She was detained in the so-called “Luhansk Penitentiary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Luhansk People's Republic”. Released on December 29, 2019 due to exchange.
Journalist. In 2010–2016 – Ukrinform correspondent in France. He has collaborated with a number of Ukrainian media. Arrested in Moscow in September 2016 during a private trip. Sentenced to 12 years in prison “for espionage in favor of Ukraine”.
He was serving his sentence in the correctional colony № 11, Kirovo-Chepetsk (Kirov region, Russia). Returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 due to exchange.
Participant of the Revolution of Dignity. Businessman. He was interested in aviation and railway transport. On September 18, 2014, he was detained by Russian security forces in the occupied Crimea, where he arrived at an aviation exhibition, and taken to the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center (Moscow, Russia).
The charge of “commercial espionage” was later reclassified as “espionage”. In December 2015, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. For more than six years, he has been serving his sentence in a penal colony № 11, Utrobino village, Kirovo-Chepetsk city (Kirov region, Russia), where his grandfather Stepan Vyhivskyi was in the camp as a victim of Stalinist repressions.
FREEDOM TO VALENTYN VYHIVSKYI!
Valentyn is currently in the single cell, but does not despair. For him, as for all Kremlin prisoners, the support, which can be expressed through letters, is extremely important. It demonstrates the Ukrainian unity and ability to appreciate each other.
So we invite you to write a letter to Valentyn and send it to the Museum's email email@example.com
Letters can be different, but must be in Russian, as required by Russian prison censorship…
Offline exhibition existed from August 2020 to April 2021
Idea of the project: Ivan Kovalchuk
Curators: Iryna Kotsabiuk, Bohdan Halchynskyi, Olesia Sobkovych
Consultant: Roman Sushchenko
Author of the installation: Anton Logov
Artists: Anton Logov, Anatolii Musiienko
Animation: Danyil Pinko
Creators of the online version:
Idea: Liudmyla Rybchenko
Photos: Olena Shovkoplias
Deaign, programming: Oleksii Raldugin