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Movie Screening of Putin’s Hostages: Ukrainian Political Prisoners

12 March @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Putin’s Hostages: Ukrainian Political Prisoners of the Kremlin is a documentary about the roughly 70 Ukrainians political prisoners incarcerated throughout Russia and occupied Crimea. These prisoners are held in conditions that threaten their health, life, and human dignity. Many of them are kept in long-term isolated confinement, with devastating effects on their mental health. They have little (if any) access to health care services leading to needless suffering, disability, and even death. The prisoners’ rights to communicate with families and the outside world are extremely curtailed. Through the stories of three such prisoners – Pavlo Hryb, Yevhen Panov, and Bekir Dehermendzhy – the documentary will recount the propaganda mechanism and actual goal of show trials conducted in order to justify Russian involvement in Ukraine.

By kind invitation of Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, and in conjunction with the British Ukrainian Society and the Ukrainian Embassy London, the Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to join Nikolai Polozov, Maria Tomak, Alya Shandra and Dr. Andrew Foxall for the screening of the thought provoking Putin’s Hostages: Ukrainian Political Prisoners of the Kremlin documentary (approx. 35 minutes) which will be followed by a discussion and Q&A session.



Nikolai Polozov is a Russian human rights lawyer who has previously defended participants in the large-scale demonstrations against fraud in the 2011 Russian Duma elections as well as the three members of the Pussy Riot rock group who were charged and sentenced for sacrilege for performing in a Russian church. Most recently, Polozov launched an independent investigation into the death of a veteran of the national movement of the Crimean Tatars, 83-year-old Vedzhie Kashka, which resulted after her detention by Russian policemen in the Crimea. The Ukrainian governmnent have appointed Nikolai Polozov to coordinate the work of the team of lawyers defending the rights of the 24 Ukrainian Navy sailor POWs captured by Russia. He has been working on the cases of Ukrainian political prisoners, namely leaders of Crimean Tatars (Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov).



Maria Tomak is a Ukrainian human rights activist, journalist, researcher, coordinator and co-founder of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, expert of USAID Human Rights in Action Program. For five years, Maria has been dealing with the cases of Ukrainian citizens who were arrested by Russian Federation on political motives in Russia and occupied Crimea. She has been volunteering with the Euromaidan SOS initiative, which was launched after the violent crackdown on the peaceful rally on the Nezalezhnosti Square in Kyiv. The initiative worked 24/7 to provide legal and other kinds of aid for the persecuted participants of the resistance movement all over Ukraine. Maria has participated in numerous field monitoring missions to Crimea and Donbas, documenting Human Rights violations (mostly kidnappings and tortures), researching the human rights situation in the Eastern Ukraine and delivering that information to both Ukrainian society and international organisations and institutions.



Oleksandra (Alya) Shandra is a Ukrainian civic figure, journalist and former participant of international environmental research projects. During the Euromaidan revolution, Alya joined the volunteer movement of translators for the protests and, as a result, established the Euromaidan Press volunteer information platform and is now Editor-in-Chief. She co-authored an investigation into the Siemens sanctions breach in the occupied Crimea, which was the basis for an investigation into the sanctions breach launched by the German prosecutor’s office. Alya joined the LetMyPeopleGo campaign to release the Kremlin’s Ukrainian political prisoners in 2015. She is the producer of the film “Putin’s Hostages: Ukrainian political prisoners of the Kremlin”.



Dr. Andrew Foxall has been Director of the Russia and Eurasia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society since 2013 and in 2017 became Director of Research. Previously, Andrew held academic positions at the University of Oxford and Queen’s University Belfast. Andrew’s research focuses on economic, political and security trends in Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of Ethnic Relations in Post-Soviet Russia (Routledge, 2014) and numerous academic articles. He has written for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Telegraph, Times, Foreign Affairs, TIME, Foreign Policy and the Moscow Times, as well as several other journals and newspapers. Andrew holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford.



Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP has been Member of Parliament for Maldon in Essex since 1992. John is a member of the Executive of the British Group of the Inter Parliamentary Union. He is also Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, and Chairman of the All Party Writers Group. Having been Head of the Political Section in the Conservative Research Department, he was appointed Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in, serving three successive Secretaries of State. He was also appointed Political Secretary to the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and was awarded the OBE in her resignation honours list.






On March 12, the Henry Jackson Society and John Whittingdale MP hosted a screening of the documentary film Putin’s Hostages: Ukrainian Political Prisoners and a panel discussion that followed.  The panel was made up of Nikolai Polozov, Maria Tomak, Oleksandra Shandra, and HJS’ own Dr. Andrew Foxall.  The film’s director was also in attendance.

The event commenced with the screening of the film which profiled different political prisoners and the statuses of their cases.  The film concluded with three steps for viewers to take to support the political prisoners: ask countries to continue to impose sanctions on Russia, organize a rally at the Russian embassy in your city, and pressure your government to advocate for their release.

The panellists then shared their thoughts and reactions starting with Mr. Whittington who was happy to report that the film had been supported by the British embassy in Ukraine.  Oleksandra offered a warning that Russia is doing away with a sense of justice to craft their fake reality and it will continue to happen unless we do something.  Nikolai Polosov underlined that the film only covers a few of the prisoners and the number continues to grow.  He also explained that there is no way to help these people within the system, because the Russian judges do not even want to hear the cases.  Maria Tomak expressed her worry that these cases seem to have been forgotten at an international level, but was uplifted by the Ukrainian government now providing financial assistance to the families of the prisoners. She also called for the UK to support sanctions for gross human rights violations.  Dr. Foxall closed the opening comments with his opinion that sanctions would work, which is why Putin continues to fight to get them lifted.  Dr. Foxall also thanked Mr. Whittington for his support of the Magnitsky legislation.

The event concluded with a round of questions and answers with the audience.


IPU Room, Palace Of Westminster
Palace Of Westminster
London, SW1A 0AA United Kingdom


Henry Jackson Society
+44 (0) 20 7340 4520


Nikolai Polozov


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