Valerii Matiushenko

Valerii Matiushenko

Date of arrest: 15.07.2017

Charges: espionage

Court verdict: 10 years in prison

Waiting for him: wife

“Before he disappeared, we were always together. I couldn't even think that this person wouldn't be around. But when it happened, I realized that I loved him so much, I couldn’t so much as breathe without him. And in these past three years without him, the more I watch our home videos and realize how terrified I am of losing him.”

This is the story of the musician Valerii Matiushenko, who was arrested by the so-called “DPR MSS” in July 2017 in Komsomolsk. Right in the center of the city, they put a bag on his head, twisted his arms behind him, and dragged him into a car. In March 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage. He is currently being held in the 32nd Makiivka penitentiary. All this time, his wife Tetiana has been fighting for his release.

“He spent 10 months in an “Isolation” room. I've already talked to former inmates who have since been released. They said that Valera was severely tortured. His viewpoint is pro-Ukrainian, and he will never change it. He has been electrocuted and has had his ribs broken. The former inmates said at one point they had to force him to stay awake as he was barely breathing, and could easily die if he lost consciousness. At that moment, I handed him bed linens through the MSS, and they told me, “we wrapped him in these sheets to make him feel better.” He miraculously survived. Maybe because I was on my knees at that moment,  asking God to just let him survive. I just knew that he was being killed.”

Little is known about Valerii's current condition. After being tortured, he has developed serious health problems, his thyroid gland is not working, and his relatives suspect he has cancer. Because the line of demarcation is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is simply impossible to transfer medicine and food.