Balukh's defense says he's a victim of repression / Photo from @crimeahrg

U.S. Embassy in Kyiv condemns new verdict against Ukraine's Balukh in Russian-occupied Crimea

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv has condemned a second verdict delivered by a local court in Russian-occupied Crimea against Ukrainian citizen Volodymyr Balukh.

"Crimean activist Volodymyr Balukh, on a hunger strike since March, was just sentenced to 5 years in prison on highly questionable charges. Russia must free political prisoners NOW," the embassy wrote on Twitter on July 5.

Видео дня

Read alsoUkrainian farmer Balukh's condition in Crimean jail deteriorates – lawyer

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 RUR 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.