Pro-Ukrainian Balukh to be placed in punitive confinement in occupied Crimea for three days

02:40, 21 April 2018
Ukraine
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Balukh is still on hunger strike / Photo from crimeahrg.org

The Russian-appointed administration of a pretrial detention center in the Russian-occupied city of Simferopol in Crimea has decided to place Volodymyr Balukh, the Crimean farmer who kept raising the Ukrainian flag above his house after Russia's occupation of Crimea, in punitive confinement.

The alleged reason of the punishment is "violation of the internal regulations," Balukh told his lawyer, who visited him on April 20, the Crimean Human Rights Group wrote on Facebook.

Read alsoHuman rights watchdog reports four violent deaths in Crimean prison

"The Ukrainian will spend three days in a punishment cell. The decision on placing a person in a punishment cell is taken by a commission made of pretrial detention center workers. Prisoners who are in a punishment cell are prohibited from sending or receiving letters, having visitors, except the lawyer. They cannot buy food and essentials. Neither are they allowed to receive parcels. They are allowed to go to bed only at specially designated time at night," human rights activists said.

However, Balukh has not been immediately transferred to the punishment cell, as there is a queue for punitive confinement caused by the fact that the detention center is overcrowded.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) detained Balukh on December 8, 2016. FSB operatives claimed that they had allegedly found 90 ammunition rounds and several TNT explosives in his attic. Balukh's defense and human rights activists assert that he is a victim of repression over his public pro-Ukrainian position.

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 RUR 10,000 fine.

On March 19, Balukh said he would go on hunger strike in response to the verdict. While on hunger strike, he drinks only water and tea.

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