The European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the torture and prosecution of two Ukrainian teenagers from occupied Berdiansk. The resolution was adopted with 425 votes in favour, three against, and 15 abstentions. MEPs demand that Russia stop the trial of the children and allow them to leave for the territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine. They also called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to facilitate the safe movement of schoolchildren.

The document urges the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children to investigate the case. MEPs propose to add those responsible for the persecution of Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov to the EU sanctions list.

In addition, the resolution calls for the release of all Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by Russia.

According to Olha Reshetylova, coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, the European Parliament resolution was a response to MIHR’s call to the international community to urgently take all possible measures to release Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov from persecution by the Russian authorities as soon as possible.

“After this resolution, and there was also OSCE’s reaction before, we hope that the occupation authorities will stop the trial of the teenagers, and allow them to leave for the territory controlled by Ukraine or third countries where they will be safe. And what is most important, is that they will not submit the case to court. After all, once they submit the case to court, they will have no way back. We know the names of all the investigators, we know the names of the heads of these investigators, and we will know the names of the judges who will conduct this trial. And we will definitely ensure criminal liability for them,” said Reshetylova.

As a reminder, on September 30, 2022, 16-year-old Tihran Ohannisian was abducted from his home by the Russian military. The boy was brutally interrogated for five days by the “investigative authorities” – the child was beaten and tortured with electric shocks. Interrogators demanded that the teenager confess to preparing a sabotage at the Melitopol Railroad, which was supposed to prevent Russian forces from receiving supplies. Tigran’s classmate, Mykyta Khanhanov, was also suspected of the same, but he, fortunately, managed to avoid arrest.

On May 24, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation brought charges against the minors. The children face up to 20 years in prison. Both minors are not allowed to leave the occupied territory and are obliged to appear before investigators every day.

Natalia Tolub

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