Youth leaders remain defiant after 650 days in detention in Ukraine

PV staff  

Since March 6, 2022 Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich have been in detention in Ukraine, experiencing regular beatings and torture. The brothers are leaders of the youth wing of the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) which has been outlawed since 2014 by the far-right regime in Ukraine.

The two were kidnapped and held by Ukrainian security forces after they opposed NATO’s proxy war against Russia. Prior to that, they had been repeatedly harassed by security forces for organizing mobilizations against the Volodymyr Zelenskyy government’s privatization campaign and other policies. They face ten years in prison if they plead guilty, or a sentence of life in prison if they fight the charges and are found guilty the court.

During their time in detention – more than 650 days – they were subject to death threats and torture including regular beatings. The brothers’ lawyer was appointed by the Ukrainian authorities.

The KPU’s youth wing is a member of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), which has been mobilizing its member organizations throughout the world to call for their immediate release. Recently, Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich sent a message of appreciation to WFDY, which indicated their defiance of the charges against them and of the far-right regime in general.

“The accusation is deliberately falsified, and this case is a clear political reprisal,” the brothers told the court. “We had our noses broken, teeth knocked out, broken ribs, concussion, hematomas.” They also stated that the security forces threatened to harm their families and children next.

A press release from WFDY affirmed solidarity with the defiant youth leaders and underlined the importance of maintaining and escalating international efforts for their release and that of other young political prisoners.

“When the contradictions of capitalism, the crises and the capitalist offensive sharpen, we must redouble our solidarity with all the persecuted and repressed comrades. On the one hand, to be able to show our solidarity and to articulate a struggle for the liberation of all young political prisoners. On the other hand, to send a message to all the militant youth that there is no reason to be afraid of repression because, in the face of any attack, the militancy will have the support of all the anti-imperialist youth on an international level.”

[Photo: Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich in detention in Ukraine]

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