In special regime camps in Ukraine in cases of prison type political prisoners united by somebody’s exact determination “The International Brigade” are held. They are unordinary and different individuals: revolutionary propagandists and impudent expropriators, well-known activists and those who have recently joined the left movement. The essence of their generality is uncompromising rejection of bourgeois values system and existing anti-people’s authorities. The rejection has grown into Hatred, the Hatred has caused Action.
Brief lines of the sentence tell us about numerous attacks on jewelry shops and currency exchange offices in order to extract money for revolt uprising, about distribution of communist newspapers and leaflets, about the explosion near the entrance to the building of Kiev SBU [the Ukraine Security Service], about secret apartments in Nikolaev and Kiev, illegal position and armed resistance.
About the victim - SBU colonel thrown away by the blast wave and having hurt his ass. About the mistress of a profitable shop who caught a bullet after she had rushed her breast onto a sawn-off gun while saving her goods - two packs of macaronis and night proceeds of 80 grivnas. About wounded policemen who beat and tortured guilty and innocent citizens in the local police department.
The period covered by the criminal case concerning the “International Brigade” falls on early 2000es.
Ukraine of those years is Ukraine under Kuchma and Co. which spent national riches remorselessly during mass poverty and destruction of the industry of the Central and Eastern parts of the country. Ukraine is under a sight of corrupted tyrants: secret services and policemen. The strongest “orange” wing has stuck into sucking Americans. The authorities of Southern Ukraine were selling the Black Sea Fleet to the West. Odessa, the Southern capital of Ukraine has changed its greatness and originality to the cult of fine shopkeepers and speculators. The Ukrainian national idea is vulgarized and defamed by mass media so that people living in different geographic points are separated by social and national precipice. Ukraine of those years is shaken by protest actions of many thousands: “Ukraine without Kuchma”, “Rise up, Ukraine!”
“There is a war already”, the political prisoner “Artem” Danilov would say in the hall of court. The majority of the “Odessa case” figurants are Odessa komsomol members and communists: Zinchenko, Gerasimov, Semenov, Alekseev, Berdugin, Polskaya; Yakovenko - at the time the leader of Odessa LKSMU [Lenin’s Communist Youth League of Ukraine], the member of Odessa city committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine. The arrested Russian “Odessites” varied a little more by their political views: an anarcho-communist Romanov, a National-Bolshevik with communist views Danilov, communists Smirnov and Plevo.
In the autumn 2002 the “International Brigade” was among thousands of participants of the meetings in the streets of Kiev, the protest action “Rise up, Ukraine!” was on a pique. At nights a tent small town was constructed till the next day of the actions against Kuchma’s regime. In spite of communist propaganda the “International Brigade” participated in the organization of resistance to the storm of the tent town by policemen and “Berkut” [“Golden Eagle”] fighters gathered to the city.
Nevertheless, the action “Rise up, Ukraine!” was brutally suppressed - hundreds of people beaten in police departments, placed into isolation wards. Some time later, an explosion near the SBU building thundered…
The location of the “International Brigade” in Kiev was taken under control by secret services, and soon a search was made there. Issues of the “Workers’ deputies’ Soviets” newspaper were withdrawn. There were no “Odessites” in the city already.
The secret service establishes external observation over Yakovenko and Plevo - the most notable in their public work.
Some of the “Odessites” move to Nikolaev. Once two policemen came up to Danilov, Alekseev and Semenov in the street. All the “Odessites” admitted the possibility of being arrested at any time, they knew how the detained were treated in Nikolaev police department even at a simple personality check. Danilov and Alekseev took their guns and shot. From that day they were declared in search, the reports declared that the policemen had been killed (in fact they were only wounded in order to neutralize them and disappear). At the same day entrances and exits of the city were blocked. Shooting in the street in daylight, declared search, observation after Yakovenko and Plevo gave its results - the secret service got identikits and the Nikolaev apartment address. In December 2002 the apartment was taken by storm. A boiler bomb filled with explosives and intended for those who had decided not to survive and who shot back and for those well-armed, equipped with armor-vests attackers. So four “Odessites” were arrested: Danilov, Alekseev, Berdugin and Polskaya.
Yakovenko, Zinchenko, Gerasimov, Semenov, Smirnov and Plevo were detained in Odessa, Romanov in Kakhovka.
Irrespective of detainment location all of them were brought to Nikolaev where a group of executors in shoulder-straps gathered. SBU gave them the “investigation” of the “International Brigade”. According to the scheme coordinated in the supreme echelons. In any way.
The lines of Alekseev’s sincere acknowledgement started jumping on a sheet while the “shoulder-straps” passed electric current through his body. Having finished writing Alekseev stack a pen into his eye in order to commit a suicide. He did not die, he fell to pieces.
It is not known how many hours and days Berdugin was hanging “on a breakage” (so called in Ukrainian criminal slang the torture of hanging by handcuffs). The policemen told Romanov and Gerasimov with ecstasy how they had beaten off Berdugin’s genital bodies. Sergey Berdugin has died in the beginning of the judicial proceedings of cancer evolved in inguinal region and liver break. Broken edges have stuck Danilov’s lungs resulting into pneumothorax. “Artem” balanced between life and death in the prison hospital. A quote from Danilov’s medical examination: “Wounds of handcuffs are determined in the region of radiocarpal articulations. Hands’ puffiness… Mattery infection joining the traumatic process… Such injuries as a wound, scratches, suggilations in the head region, face, upper and lower limbs, back, breast resulted from a blunt rigid thing… fractures of 3rd-9th edges…”
Being arrested Polskaya was less than 18 years old. As it was told inhuman cries were heard from the room where she was interrogated. For several days the girl was beaten and attempted to rape. After signing the “confession” she was released before court.
Smirnov was carried between Odessa, Nikolaev, Kakhovka, New Kakhovka and Kherson for almost three weeks. In the intervals between interrogations and tortures he slept at the concrete floor of special reception centers and isolation wards: at the second week of the detainment he declared a dry hunger-strike.
Plevo was placed in a torture chamber of Nikolaev detention facility. Two police toadies, previously boxers, trained their technique at Plevo, he was carried out from the chamber with his clothes soaked with blood. At the court Plevo would say how he composed his confession together with the investigator, how he was beaten on his head with plastic bottles full of water at any signs of disobedience, and he would finish his speech with preaching about viciousness of revolutionary way and about his contacts to God revealed to him at once… Gerasimov was beaten before each interrogation. He held by until the investigator showed him photos of his mutilate and bedeviled comrades Danilov and Alekseev.
Yakovenko was not tortured. He simply received no help at his heart attacks (the SBU knew he was sick). Besides, maybe he was necessary alive for the investigation - the security service was working out a scheme of a “gang” in which Yakovenko who possessed “portfolios” was assigned the role of the leader.
The last revolutionary action of the “International Brigade” was the judicial proceedings of summer 2004 in Odessa regional court. The “Odessites” succeeded to work out the common defense line: formally - a line of defense against a dozen of faceless articles of the Criminal Code; by contents - political defense of “left” views and selfless aspirations to struggle in the name of the future. The spirit of recalcitrance, the spirit having broken through humiliations and indignities made by bourgeois neo-Gestapo, through confessions efforced by torture and rejected in the court, through strict isolation from freedom and from each other was soaring in the hall of the court for many weeks… There weren’t two of them in the “International Brigade” already. Berdugin enchained by handcuffs to the hospital bed had got rid of hard pains and physical sufferings forever. Plevo no more called himself a comrade and no more was a comrade in fact. Romanov, Smirnov, Zinchenko, Danilov, Semenov, Yakovenko and Gerasimov spoke in the court during their long-term hunger strike which they held until the end of judicial pleadings.
Quotes from the shorthand report of the “Odessites”’ speeches at the court:
Andrey Yakovenko. Interrogation of the culprit.
“I am a witness of much. I have seen our ships coming to India and thrown out on a bank… and then sent for scrap metal. The new bourgeois class got profit of it. And we sailors starved… Finally we had nothing to leave for the sea on - the Black Sea Shipping company is destroyed, is lost for the people. I saw the destruction of the Soviet Union against the people’s will… When the Communist Party began to restore I came to the city committee myself and asked what to do…”
Bogdan Zinchenko. After the sentence.
”I was sentenced… for my active participation in the Komsomol life, for my political views, for refusal… to accept the accusations of crimes I hadn’t committed… As the head of the investigation group had proclaimed if I agreed to co-operate with them in unmasking my comrades I would be liberated if not I would be imprisoned for 12 years. I refused to betray my comrades”.
Oleg Alekseev. The last statement.
“When my beloved girl is weeping and saying that she has got nothing to eat, that she has stomachache of hunger… I couldn’t not to ask myself a question: “Who is guilty of it?” I couldn’t not to come to a conclusion that something was wrong in the society and that I as a man should struggle against this unjust social order… And I did what I did. I was not afraid of blood on my hands. But I failed. And now it will not be worse for me already”.
Alexander Gerasimov. Speech in judicial pleadings.
“…I was acting for ideological reason, not for selfish motives. We committed attacks in order to get money for purposes of our [revolutionary] movement. We took nothing for ourselves”.
Alexander Smirnov. The last statement.
“This judicial proceeding is a political one, I have no illusions concerning the future sentence and my own fate. What is going on is annihilation of otherwise-minded, accomplishment of the political order by the court. We can see only words about freedom, equality and justice in the Constitution of the bourgeois state. In fact there is nothing like that. In modern Russia and Ukraine those who are stronger that means richer possess the right those who are armed with cudgels possess the power. Who is imprisoned in there countries now? Mainly those who committed crimes because they were not able to subsist by their labour, who couldn’t find a job. What can result of it except a social outbreak? Try to think of it!”
Ilya Romanov. The last statement.
“I’d like to remind to the court that the strength is in the truth. Sooner or later the truth will win. Then it will be clear who is guilty and who is not. It will come out that your sentences are unjust. Nobody will remember this court with thankfulness, and everything will be brought back to the unjust court!”
Igor “Artem” Danilov
“You may annihilate us but it changes nothing. Your strength is only in your amount. But it is for the moment. You judge us today, we’ll judge you tomorrow. That’s all”.
The sentence of “Odessa” case was read off on July, 19. 2004.
Yakovenko - 14 years imprisonment
Danilov - 14 years imprisonment
Alekseev - 13 years imprisonment
Zinchenko - 12 years imprisonment
Gerasimov - 11 years imprisonment
Romanov - 10 years imprisonment
Smirnov - 8 years imprisonment
Plevo - 6 years imprisonment
Polskaya and Semenov are sentenced conditionally.
Semenov was liberated in the hall of the court.
A year later, in July 2005, after the “Maidan” events in the name of “orange” Ukraine the sentence of the revolutionaries was affirmed by the Supreme Court without significant changes. The Ukrainian “International Brigade” was carried one by one to camps of different regions of the country. They were passing with guards humiliating at prisoners through cold and congestion of transit prisons to towns and villages lost in patterns of grasslands, ravines and deserted mines of the East of Ukraine, to the Moldavian border, to cockish and clannish Zapadenschina [West Ukraine]… Now the fate bound with revolutionary struggle is a separate story of each of them.
The “International Brigade” case is in the European court.