Ukrainian Activist Abused by Detention Center Head in Crimea
3 July, 2018

Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh was subjected to abuse from the head of the temporary detention center where he is being held illegally in Russia-occupied Crimea. Balukh described the ill-treatment during his testimony at the Rozdolne District Court in occupied Crimea.

This was reported by RFE/RL's Crimean news service Krym.Realii.

Balukh’s testimony contradicts earlier claims made in court by detention center head Valeriy Tkachenko, who said that the Ukrainian prisoner hit him.

“Each time [Tkachenko] visited the detention center, he came to my cell and tried to insult me, belittle me based on my nationality and – as he believes – my membership in the Right Sector. He said that we khokhly [derogatory term for Ukrainians –ed.] must be eliminated as a species, among other things. He would arrive smelling of alcohol, wearing civilian clothes, on the weekend,” Balukh said during his examination.

The Ukrainian activist added that several times he expressed a wish to testify with a polygraph but was denied.

On March 19, Balukh declared a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment on fabricated charges. Since then he has lost 30 kilograms, according to lawyer Olga Dinze.

READ MORE: Crimean Political Prisoner Declares Hunger Strike

The court of annexed Crimea found him guilty of ammunition possession and sentenced him to three years and seven months in a penal colony-settlement plus a fine of 10,000 rubles ($170) in January 2018. The sentence was reduced to three years and five months in March.

A second case against Balukh was opened after detention center head Tkachenko claimed the Ukrainian had hit him. However, Balukh and his defense maintain that it was Tkachenko who attacked him.

“These attempts to hit me, insult me, all these provocations are recorded on video,” said Balukh.

Earlier, in June, Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Akhtem Chyyhoz told Krym.Realii that a video camera had been installed in Balukh’s cell.

The court in occupied Crimea extended the period of Balukh’s illegal detention on June 15. That same day, the political prisoner, who had been on hunger strike for nearly three months, felt ill and was taken from the court by ambulance.

READ MORE: Hunger-striking Political Prisoner Falls Ill in Crimean Court

Russian ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova visited Balukh in his detention cell in Simferopol on May 19. She reported on the conditions in which he is being kept in response to a request from Ukraine’s Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova.

/By Larissa Babij