A few days ago news came from the special isolation unit where Nelly Shtepa has been rotting for over three years. Nelly has been subjected to what Americans called “enhanced interrogation”. The photograph from the prison shows an old woman with completely white hair nursing a bruise on her arm. She alleges that a special torture unit inflicted pain on her this past June 24.
Back story, for those not in the know: Nelly was Mayor of the Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, from 2010-2014. When Donbass Separatists, led by Igor Girkin-Strelkov, took the city, Nelly was pushed out of her Mayor’s job. Nelly was caught between a rock and a hard place. Like the majority of Donbass residents, she opposed the Maidan junta and spoke out for the proposed Referendum which would have led to greater autonomy of the region within Ukraine. On the other hand, Nelly did not necessarily approve of what this particular band of Seps was doing. Girkin’s new “candidate” for Mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomarev was a thug with a criminal record. Nelly claims that Ponomarev held her at gunpoint and forced her to sign the letter of resignation. Also that he beat her into submission and threatened her family. Other accounts of Ponomarev’s behavior lend credibility to her story. Eventually there was to be a falling-out between Girkin and Ponomarev. The latter was tossed into Sep prison as well, as a kind of karmic punishment, but released just in time for Girkin’s Great Exodus, from Slavyansk to Donetsk. Girkin forgave Ponomarev just in time to take him with. As far as I know, nobody has even seen Ponomarev since then. (I could be wrong.)
From Teacher To Hostage
Nelya Ihorivna Lytvyn was born on 13 September 1962 in Slavyansk. She graduated from the Slavyansk State Pedagogical Institute in 1979, and began her career as a teacher in 1984. This led to administrative positions, where she worked her way up to headmistress of the school. She joined the Communist Party and became more involved in politics. In the 2000s, she switched from the Communists to the Ukrainian Party of Regions. She was elected mayor of Slavyansk on 31 October 2010, winning more than 60% of the vote.
After the Maidan junta seized power in 2014, Nelly’s was the fate of a person who can’t decide which side to take. The Seps kept her locked up most of the time in the basement of her old office building, but occasionally let her out to officiate at certain municipal functions, such as Victory Day. There was at least an attempt on the part of the Seps to make it look like Nelly had cooperated and voluntarily resigned from her post. Later, Nelly was to claim that the Seps had threatened her family if she didn’t cooperate. It is difficult to evaluate how much of that was true, given Nelly’s situation of being a double hostage. Nelly was subjected to a series of trials and tribulations, and forced to make difficult decisions; and she didn’t always know the right thing to say or do.
When Girkin retreated to Donetsk and the Ukrainian army retook Slavyansk, Nelly stayed behind, rather than fleeing with the Seps. That was her biggest mistake. If she had fled with Girkin to Donetsk, she would probably be okay now, and living under the protection of Prime Minister Zakharchenko. Instead, she probably thought the Ukrainians would understand her actions; how she had been kept hostage in her own town. But instead of sympathizing with her plight, the minions of the junta dragged her back to Kharkov and threw her her into a special torture jail. Where she has been rotting the past three years and never even brought to trial.
Kiev’s Official Torturers
In her letter out of the Kharkov prison, Nelly claims that she is being held within a certain special isolation facility called the “Kharkov Establishment for Infliction of Punishments #27” (ХУИН); that an officer of this agency applied force to her; that she is being held in unsanitary conditions; and that her medications have been stolen. In other words, this ХУИН is a torture unit within the Ukrainian security forces. And the name is very apt too, as it sounds very much like a Russian profanity.
Why does the Ukrainian junta abuse a white-haired old woman who can’t fight back? Because they don’t trust her. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they believe that she was politically sympathetic to, and collaborated with, the Separatists. And that’s enough for them to punish her. These are Ukrainian Nationalists, after all, a crueler bunch of people has never been known to mankind.