Daria Mastikasheva: I Have Not Seen My Baby for a Year Already

Sportswoman Daria Mastikasheva is charged with treason under Article 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. SBU suspects her of recruiting Anti-Terrorism Operation veterans in eastern Ukraine to imitate preparations for terrorist attacks in Russia, which could be used by Russian special services to discredit Ukrainian authorities.

On 15 August 2017 masked armed men blocked Daria's car and took her to an undisclosed location. For several days she was tortured and threatened with reprisals against her son and mother unless she confirms her cooperation with Russian special services who sent her to Dniepr to recruit ATO veteransto send them to Russia. After Daria Mastikasheva agreed, a video of her confession was demonstrated by SBU Head Vasily Grytsak at his press conference in Kiev on 17 August 2017. Daria was officially detained only after the SBU Head's press conference.

The sportswoman has spent over a year in jail. She may spend between 12 and 15 years in prison with possible confiscation of property. Ms. Mastikasheva is represented by lawyer Valentin Rybin.

A representative of Uspishna Varta human rights platform managed to interview the political prisoner and her lawyer about the conditions in jail, health condition,threats by the prosecution and possible verdict on 4 October 2018. Below is the complete text of the interview.

You may find a video of the interview of Daria Mastikasheva and Valentin Rybin at Uspishna Varta's YouTube channel.

- Valentin, what is your opinion of today's session? Are there any positive prospects in the case of your defendant?

- A session of Dneprovsky rayon court of the city of Dneprodzerzhinsk (Kamenskoye) dedicated to criminal case of my defendant Daria Mastikasheva, charged with treason, was to take place on 4 October 2018. The session did not take place as the prosecutor was unprepared to present the evidence for the third time. He brought all the ten volumes bundled and wanted to submit all the ten volumes to the court together. However, the court reacted properly to the resolute objections by the lawyer and rejected the prosecutor's motion to enter all the evidence together. Now the prosecutor has to prepare for the presentation of each evidence individually. He has to prove to the court that each of these documents is relevant for the establishment of guilt of my defendant.

The court also examined yet another motion of defense to change the pre-trial detention of Daria Mastikasheva to house arrest. Regrettably, once again we failed to change the pre-trial custody of my defendant, who've spent over a year in Dniepr jail. I also want to note the fact that on 18 October 2018 the term in office of the presiding judge will expire, and the term in office of another judge from the panel will expire on 7 November 2018. Thus, two judges will have to be replaced before 7 November. Naturally, the court proceedings will restart. Today's refusal to change the pre-trial custody of Mastikasheva means that at least until 7 November she will remain in jail without proper examination of her case in due time.

- Daria, you've spent more than a year in jail; your case is under court examination. Please tell us what sort of evidence against you have been presented, and what is your assessment of the development of your case?

- Indeed, I have spent already 14 months in jail as the article under which I am indicted provides no alternative. Court sessions are dedicated to extention of pre-trial custody only. There's nothing to examine here in substance. The situation I found myself in cannot be subjected to court proceedings in principle. However, nobody cares, they just extend pre-trial custody indefinitely.

- What is the attitude of other inmates and jail staff towards you?

- The prisoners' attitude is normal, and the staff is also more or less loyal towards me. There are certain exceptions when the situation may become worse.

– Have you met detainees on similar charges?

- No.

- Having spent over a year in jail, what is your health self-assessment? How satisfactory are incarceration conditions?

- My health deteriorated since the events of 15 August 2017. As of today, I still cannot get well, because there's no medical staff in the jail and no medical assistance is provided. I can't get even elementary drugs - they don't give them to me.

- What was the hardest part of that period?

- Well, everything. Absolutely everything. Nothing can be simple there. The things are very complicated there.

- Do you have an opportunity to see your relatives?

- No, I have not had that opportunity from day one. First, the investigator did not allow my mother to see me. When I was illegally taken to psychiatric hospital, my mother and lawyer received a permission to see me on my birthday by some miracle; they had to rush quickly. I spent two weeks in total in psychiatric hospital. But I had only one week to see my relatives. They came every other day or two.

- We know that you have a little child. When did you see him last time?

- On 15 August 2017.

- Did you have a chance to see him since then?

- No..

- Did the prosecution or SBU approach you with a proposal to resolve the matter "amicably"?

- They did, however not to resolve the matter"amicably", they threatened me instead. They threatened me, my life, they threatened tolock me in the worst prison in Ukraine. They threatened that my little baby would be taken to an undisclosed location to a life of misery. I saw only threats from them.

- Did you reassess your life values while in jail? What would you change in your life when you are released?

- You know, I never crossed the law in my life in principle, so there's not much for me to change in my life. Maybe I'll change some aspects of my life, of course, but they will be mostly related to my sphere of activity. Otherwise I'd probably change nothing. Everything will remain the same.

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