Sep 03, 2018

Crimean Tatars: Meijlis Member in Serious Condition After Hunger Strike in Russian Prison

The Deputy Chairman of the Meijlis reports that Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh is in serious condition following his imprisonment in a Russian-controlled prison in Crimea. Balukh, 47, has been on hunger strike since 19 March 2018 and is now held in solitary confinement. The activist is held in a solitary cell under the pretext of allegedly assaulting the head of the detention centre Valeriy Tkachenko. Balukh was originally detained by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) on 8 December 8 2016, being accused of possessing ammunition and explosives. The so-called “Supreme Court of Crimea” reviewed his original verdict and sentenced him to three years and five months in a penal colony.

The article below was published by Unian:

Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Akhtem Chiygoz has said the condition of Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh, 47, who has been on hunger strike in a Russian-controlled prison in Crimea since March 19, is serious. "I was told at night that Volodymyr Balukh felt very bad," Chiygoz wrote on Facebook on September 1. "Also they want to send him to the 'pit' [a punitive solitary confinement cell]."

As UNIAN reported earlier, the Crimean court on July 5 sentenced Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh to an extra five-year term in a penal colony and a RUB 10,000 fine in the second criminal case opened against him. That second case was based on claims by Valeriy Tkachenko, the head of a detention center in the village of Rozdolne, who stated Balukh had allegedly assaulted him, while the prisoner and his defense insisted that it was Tkachenko who had in fact attacked the defendant. Balukh was detained by Russia's FSB Federal Security Service on December 8, 2016. FSB operatives claimed that they had allegedly found 90 ammunition rounds and several TNT explosives in his attic. On March 14, 2018, the Kremlin-controlled "Supreme Court of Crimea" reviewed Balukh's original verdict and sentenced him to three years and five months in a penal colony settlement and a RUB 10,000 fine. On March 19, Balukh said he would go on hunger strike in response to the verdict. Balukh's defense and human rights activists assert that he is a victim of repression over his public pro-Ukrainian position.

Photo courtesy of Radio Liberty