An illegal district court in annexed Crimea has found Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh guilty of allegedly assaulting the head of a temporary detention facility. He has been sentenced to five years imprisonment and fined around $160 (10,000 rubles.)
In making their decision, the judge took into account Balukh’s January conviction of allegedly storing ammunition, for which he received a three year and seven month sentence and a $160 (10,000 ruble) fine. However, this was reduced to three years and five months in March.
The second charge against him arose from assault allegations by detention facility head Valeriy Tkachenko, who says that the Ukrainian political prisoner hit him.
Balukh denies this, claiming that Tkachenko had, in fact, assaulted him.
“[Tkachenko] would arrive smelling of alcohol, wearing civilian clothes, on the weekend,” Balukh said during his examination.
Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Akhtem Chiygoz told RFE/RL’s Crimean news service Krym.Realii that cameras had also been installed in Balukh’s cell.
Balukh has stated that he was prohibited from testifying and even denied a polygraph test.
What’s more, the political prisoner’s health is deteriorating, according to his lawyer. Balukh has been on hunger strike since March 19 in protest of the fabricated charges against him.
Following a court hearing on June 15, in which his sentence was extended, Balukh fell ill and he was taken from court in an ambulance.