Russian Memorial considers Balukh to be political prisoner

Дата: 09 February 2017
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Russian Human Rights Center “Memorial” considers Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh, who was arrested in the Crimea, to be political prisoner and demands his immediate release.

As reported by the Center on its website.

“With high probability it can be assumed that direct cause for the fabrication of criminal case against activist is the fact that on November 29, 2016, he posted a plaque stating “18 Heroes of Nebesna Sotnya Street” – on the wall of his house. Shortly after posting the plaque he was visited by Vitaliy Stepanyuk, Head of the Village Council, who threatened that this independent behavior would entail adverse consequences, including “discovery” of weapons or drugs in Balukh’s house and demanded to remove the plaque”, – said in a statement.

Human Rights Center “Memorial” considers it to be extremely unlikely that a well-known on a regional level activist, who is a target for constant pressure from the law enforcement authorities and local administration, whose house was searched twice in 2015, would be storing ammunition. It is also important that investigative authority has no evidence that the ammunition discovered in the attic of Balukh’s wife belong to him, they do not even have his fingerprints. The fact of finding ammunition was recorded only by one witness and in the absence of the accused.

“It should be noted that the authorization to conduct investigative work “room inspection” in the house of Balukh’s civil wife was issued by Victor Sklyarov, the Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea, more than one month before the conduction of the investigation”, – said in a statement.

The human rights center emphasizes that the preventive measure chosen against Balukh is disproportionate to social danger of the crime with which he is charged. Blatant is the fact of detention of the accused under minor article without any serious reason.

As a reminder, On December 8, 2016, FSB conducted a 4 hour search in the house of Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh and his mother and “found” 90 rounds of ammunition and several TNT blocks in the attic of the Balukh’s house. Searches were conducted before, each time during the searches they took down the Ukrainian flag from his roof and seized it. There is reason to believe that the FSB officers planted the ammunition during the search in order to falsification of a new criminal case against the activist.

On December 12 Razdolnensky District Court of Crimea under control of Russian authorities has chosen a measure of restraint for Balukh in the form of detention for a period of 30 days. The court disregarded the fact that the procedural documents were drafted with significant violations and that on the content of Volodymyr is his old mother, who is 73 years old.

On December 14 investigator in the presence of a lawyer charged the Ukrainian under the part 1 of Art. 222 of the Criminal Code. Crimean does not agree with accusations and does not plead guilty.

On December 26 Crimean Human Rights Group reported that Balukh suffers from chronic bronchitis, which intensified in the crowded jail cell.


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