Yaroslav Mysiak

Name: Yaroslav Mysyak

Country/Area of Origin: Ukraine

Background: Mysyak is a Ukrainian Christian that worked as a youth pastor in the Transcarpathian region.

Reason for Arrest:

One evening in 1998, Pastor Mysyak was abruptly woken by a dream in which his parents passed away; shortly after he awoke, police authorities arrived and informed him that his grandfather, grandmother, and uncle were murdered that night. Prior to the incident, Mysyak’s uncle had owed large amounts of money to members of the Yugoslavian mafia; it is believed that these individuals were responsible for the murder of Mysyak’s uncle and grandparents, as a medical autopsy revealed that the knife wounds were inflicted with ‘professional’ accuracy.

In the following days, Pastor Mysyak was initially summoned to the police department as a witness for some questioning and background information but became the primary suspect. Authorities searched his home twice with no evidence of his participation or culpability in the murder. Mysyak eventually signed a confession of his guilt after he was warned that if he refused to cooperate, his wife and daughter would b held for interrogation. In 1998, Amnesty International reported that they had learned police authorities had used physical torture and electrical shock to extract a confession from Mysyak.

Following Mysyak’s ‘confession’, authorities searched his home for a third time and suddenly found a pair of pants with blood on them – the blood was not forensically analyzed to tie it to Mysyak – and a knife was found in the sewer of a nearby road. Despite the dubious nature in which evidence suddenly appeared after three searches of Mysyak’s home and the fact that a witness reported seeing a man going to Mysyak’s family’s home to extort money from the uncle, the Transcapathian Regional Court charged Mysyak with murder and sentenced him to death by firing squad in August 1999.

Despite that the death sentence has since been been overturned in Ukraine, Pastor Mysyak has remained in detention for 23 years in Oujgorod Prison.

Latest Updates:

  • In September 2021, Jubilee Campaign raised the prolonged detention of Yaroslav Mysyak in our submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council 133 written submission on Ukraine.
  • In August 2021, in light of President Biden’s meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Jubilee Campaign, alongside 16 organizations and over 40 individuals, sent a letter to Biden urging him to call for the acquittal of Mysyak
  • September 2020: New findings have also appeared showing that the initial forensic report was tampered with and the court of cassation stated that the charge against Yaroslav Mysyak does not have “clear evidence of his guilt”, and the evidence on which the prosecution is based can be interpreted in “two completely different ways”.