How Russian Federal Security Service falsifies «terrorist» case against Melitopol residents – Volodymyr Zuev, Andrii Golubev, Oleksandr Zhukov, Igor Gorlov, Yuri Petrov


The Center for Journalist Investigations continues a series of publications about Ukrainians on occupied territories whom Russian special services abducted, tortured, knocked out «confessions» and accused of preparing «acts of international terrorism». Current article is about five Melitopol residents whom the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) appointed as «terrorists». As FSB pretended, they prepared an attack of truck on humanitarian assistance. Nobody cares about absurdity of this falsified story, now actively «investigated» in Russia. However, Ukrainian citizens will face life imprisonment if an illegal court decision will be enacted.

As FSB insists, five Melitopol residents put explosives into car front bumper and were going to explode them when cars with humanitarian assistance would pass by. FSB also reports its officers found an arsenal of weapons and ammunition but did not present any evidences of mined car.

Russian «military correspondents» controlled by FSB published a list of weapons «prepared» by «terrorist group» and «found» by FSB in Melitopol in April: two manpads «Igla», three manual grenade launchers, 18 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, small arms and several thousands of ammunition.

Russian soldiers detained the following Melitopol residents: Andrii Golubev, Igor Gorlov, Oleksandr Zhukov, Volodymyr Zuev and Yuri Petrov. The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation published their names in its list of «extremists and terrorists».  Surprisingly, it indicated Yuri Petrov as an inhabitant of Zaporizhzhia.

In accordance with the latest information, all of them are detained in Lefortovo remand prison in Moscow. They were brought to Crimea at the very beginning as occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions are covered by the Crimean branch of FSB.

The Center for Journalist Investigations talked to relatives of political prisoners and collected publicly available information about them.

Andrii Golubev

Andrii Yuriyovych Golubev was born on November 18, 1977 in Melitopol. He graduated from Melitopol Pedagogical University as a teacher. Firs of all, Golubev is known as successful kung-fu trainer of Melitopol school of martial arts «The Hall of White Tiger» and a head of Melitopol Association of kung-fu.

Андрій Голубєв.  Фото Facebook

Andrii Golubev. Photo: Facebook

His training course were popular, as Melitopol residents say. Competitions of various levels were conducted on the basis of «White Tiger» whereas Andrii Golubev was their key judge. 

Андрій Голубєв під час змагань з бойових мистецтв. Фото “Мелітопольські відомості”

Andrii Golubev at a tournament of martial arts, Photo: «Melitopolski vidomosti»

Parents of Melitopol children loved trainer Golubev, as city residents told us. «Andrii did care about security of trainings and sincerely cared about their participants. He always supported them and he could talk hours about victories and achievements of young sportsmen», as our sources reported.

When Covid quarantine was introduced and training courses were cancelled, Andrii tried to change his job. He entered border guards in Kyrylovka on Azov sea shore in December 2020. He left the service in one year, in December 2021, as he realized that his true mission was to work with children. He was also going to find a job with computer school. However, Russian-Ukrainian war broke all his plans.

Armed occupants entered an apartment of Golubev’s family in occupied Melitopol on April 6, 2022.

«Three people, fully equipped with helmets, bulletproof vests, balaclavas and protected by large shield, entered our apartment. I do not know whether they were going to storm or expected armed resistance. It seems other two men in black uniform were key persons in this operation to abduct my husband», as Olga, the wife of Andrii, recalled that awful day.

It is surprising that invaders did not conduct a search. They took passport and phones, handcuffed Andrii and picked him up from home.

Olga was told that if her husband would «cooperate», then, «everything would be ok».

Olga tried to find her husband. She addressed occupation «authorities» and always received an answer that nobody knew about an arrest of Andrii Golbev.

«As if they laughed at me at those authorities… They asked me to describe those who abducted Andrii, to describe their vehicle and to prove that they were Russian occupants», as Olga Golubeva says.

As she believes, Andrii is the Ukrainian patriot and he did not accept the Russian occupation. But he could not resist the enemy with weapons as his health deteriorated (serious disease of joints). She thinks his arrest to be absolutely groundless.

Olga Golbeva received the first news about her husband by the end of April. Her friends found news in social networks that he was included into the Russian list of extremists and terrorists.

«I read in mass media that Andrii was detained in Lefortovo prison. Then, human rights defenders from the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties started helping me and my husband. While Russian investigation is underway, something can be done. I am afraid that I will not be able to find and return him after the court sentence», as she worries.

As Russian mass media reported, Andrii Golubev appealed against his arrest to «the Supreme Court of Crimea». He argued he was not going to intervene with investigation; that he worked informally, live with his wife and a child and had serious disease of hip joint. However, «the court» ignored his appeal and stated that Golubev could escape from an investigation and a court, threaten participants of criminal investigation, destroy evidence and impede upon overall investigation of the criminal case.

Igor Gorlov

Before the Russian invasion into Ukraine, 35 years old Igor Yuriyovych Gorlov served in the Ukrainian army in Melitopol. Olena Taranenko, the psychologist of Veterans’ Movement of Melitopol, told the CJI, that after an occupation of the city Igor did not live at home, he hid as he knew that Russian occupants started hunting for the Ukrainian military and veterans of the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation in Donbas in 2014-15 (ATO).

Ігор Горлов. Фото надано Оленою Тараненко

Igor Gorlov. Photo granted by Olena Taranenko

He was caught on April 8 when he parked his car in a garage. After the arrest, his mobile phone was active for a week and received messages from his relatives and friends. It seems occupants used it to uncover all his social contacts.

«Igor knew that after occupation of the city «witch hunt» was launched by Russian occupants. They had all information about participants of ATO and civic activists, their addresses. He knew it was dangerous for him to appear at his home. It seems some «good people» informed occupants about his whereabouts. Russian military brought him to the first search of his apartment at 10:30 p.m. on April 15, 2022. As occasional witnesses told, they saw him on April 17. Under military escort, he drove from a parking zone and stopped. Then, he was put into another car and brought by people in black to the second search of his apartment», as Olena Taranenko told.

Since then, nobody saw Igor Gorlov in Melitopol. His car was unexpectedly put in his courtyard and removed in a month.

Russian propagandists showed Igor on April 22. They aired the falsified story about preparation of «terrorist act». Exhausted Igor informed about «mining a car» in their video report.

«The front bumper of vehicle had to be loaded with explosives, in order to hit transport at a distance of 5 meters», Igor hardly spoke when looked at camera.

Ігор Горлов

Igor Gorlov

Olena Taranenko believes that a car, shown in FSB video, is not a car of Igor Gorlov.

Russian mass media informed on April 29 that five Melitopol residents were added to the list of extremists and terrorists of the Russian Federal Financial Monitoring Service. They were accused of «international terrorism».

There was any news about Igor Gorlov until August. Relatives of all detained Melitopol residents received information from Russian media.

«We spent months in waiting, monitoring and attempting to get help. We checked whether Igor was put into the list of disappeared people or into the list for the exchange of prisoners of war. We were afraid we did not make what we could make to save his life. We received information about him only in August from Russian media. We managed to contact Moscow lawyer who defends him», as Olena Taranenko said. She also keeps contacts with relatives of Kremlin’s captive. 

Volodymyr Zuev

IT specialist Volodymyr Zuev was abducted from the house where this 44 years old man lived with his sick father.

Volodymyr was born in Melitopol. He graduated from local university. He worked in the Center of computer technologies of his alma mater Tavriisky Agro-Technological University and then in Melitopol internet providers. He was enlisted into the reserve of the battalion of the city territorial defense.

Володимир Зуєв (посередині) Фото з сімейного архіву

Volodymyr Zuev (in the middle). Photo from his family archive.

His brother Oleksandr Zuev told the story of his abduction by the Russian military.

«Russian military came for Volodymyr on April 1. Eight armed occupants entered the house around 6 o’clock in the morning and conducted very thorough search. They declared they «knew» that the brother was «a terrorist». They looked for an evidence of his participation in the terrorist activity», as Oleksandr told.

As he informed, their sick father was not tortured, just interrogated. Volodymyr was taken from home at 10 o’clock in the morning. Since then relatives did not see him.

«We know he was kept in «basement» for interrogations for a long time. He was brought to Kherson for unknown purposes and then transported to Crimea. Perhaps, he was tortured «to confess». Then, mass media reported that Ukrainians including my brother were kept in Lefortovo», as Oleksandr Zuev said.

Yuri Petrov

Russian occupants called 61 years old Yuri Anatoliyovych Petrov as an inhabitant of Zaporizhzhia. It is indicated in the above mentioned Russian «list of extremists and terrorists». However, he was registered in Melitopol and lived there with his family.

He was among the first arrested by Russians, in accordance with information provided by relatives of abducted people. It happened between the 1st and the 4th of April.

Юрій Петров. Фото Вконтакте

Yuri Petrov (to the right). Photo VKontakte

We are not able to determine the exact date as his relatives stay on occupied territory and we did not contact them for security reasons.

His colleagues told us that Yuri loves very much his motherland, two children and is very helpful man.

The scenario of abduction was the same: occupants broke into Yuri’s house in the morning. After the search, he was taken for an interrogation. It was also informed that some weapons were found in his house. But his friends told us that these were so-called «historical artifacts». Many city residents know that Yuri Petrov liked very much «historical reconstructions». He was interested in the history of the Second World War. Many people with such a hobby have similar «arsenals» in their houses.

Oleksandr Zhukov

Oleksandr Anatoliyovych Zhukov was born on January 4, 1969. Russian soldiers came to his house in the morning of the 7th of April, as his daughter Yevgenia Zhukova told the CJI.

«I glanced in the window around 5:30 a.m. and saw two cars and people in military uniform. I realized they came to us. We have only one neighbor – old woman. It was very unlikely that occupants would come for her. I woke up my father and brother. We sat in the kitchen when they knocked in our door – «Open! It is police!», as Yevgenia now recalls.

She was shocked and did not understand occupants’ order to lay «face down the floor»…

Oleksandr Zhukov. Photo from family archive.

Eight military men entered Zhukov’s house. The majority of them started searching whereas others interrogated Yevgenia and her relatives.

The girl confesses that the family did not believe occupants would come and did not agree upon important things, like how to behave or what to tell occupants.

«It was kind of funny: they asked me about military service of my father and I started saying I just moved here and did not know about his army service. But his photo in military uniform was displayed on the screen of my computer…», as Yevgenia says.

One occupant persuaded her that they would release Oleksandr after an interrogation:

«Do not worry! We will take your father, interrogate him and release him. We will not beat or torture him. What is f*cking use of old man?» as Yevgenia recalls Russian soldier’s words.

Six occupants had new military uniform of light colors – clean, fresh, with helmets, bulletproof vests and modern guns. Two wore black cloths, almost civilian. Their faces were covered by balaclavas. She thinks she saw one face before the war. It is very likely one soldier was a local resident.

Russians took Oleksandr Zhukov and, after that day, his family did not see him

His daughter tells that she went to «city commandant’s office» in two days. She was advised not to worry and wait until his release. But she was told «he is not here and he has never been here» just after one day.

The girl realized she would not be able to find any reliable information on occupied territory. She left Melitopol and came to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government. She submitted his data to the Ukrainian regional headquarters, called «hot number» of Melitopol City Council. All efforts were fruitless.

The first news she heard about her father came from Russian media in August. They referred to publication on Ksenia Sobchak’s telegram channel.

Then, an unknown woman named Iryna suddenly contacted her brother in social networks. Iryna told that Oleksandr Zhukov was detained in Moscow prison called Lefortovo. She proposed to transfer some stuff to Oleksandr. She contacted one more time and proposed to send her an envelope, paper and post stamps, in order to organize regular communication with imprisoned Oleksandr (this communication with Ukrainian political prisoners kept in Russia was used until 24.02.2022 – ed.). After that Iryna disappeared.

Russian military visited Zhukov’s house in occupied Melitopol one more time at the beginning of November. Armed men asked Yevgenia’s grandmother living in the house about his whereabouts – he was officially registered there before the war.

«Frankly speaking, I am not sure that father is kept in Lefortovo. There is no sense to trust Russian sources of information as it is meaningless to trust Russian system of justice. I am very afraid the worst happened. But I want to believe that my father, as other prisoners, will come back. We are waiting for him», as Yevgenia Zhukova says.

These stories of Melitopol residents confirm the scheme under which FSB falsifies criminal cases about «international terrorism».

People are abducted, then tortured, humiliated and threatened. They are forced to make «confessions». After that their cases are transferred to the department of FSB in Crimea and Sevastopol. Local FSB officers initiate criminal investigations under part 1 of an article 30, part 1 of an article 361 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation («preparation of the act of international terrorism»).

Golubev, Gorlov, Zuev, Zhukov and Yuri Petrov were introduced into the «list of extremists» of the Russian Federal Financial Monitoring Service on April 29, 2022.

Life time imprisonment threatens all Melitopol residents united by falsified Russian case of «international terrorism»…