Volodymyr Balukh on hunger strike since March 19 / Photo from Radio Liberty

Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate Clement says that Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh, 47, who has been on hunger strike in a Russian-controlled prison in Crimea since March 19, complains about acute pain in the heart.

The archbishop, who is a civil defender of the activist, says that despite the pain in his heart, Balukh continues his hunger strike, Radio Liberty's Ukrainian service said.

The defender refused to comment on reports that the activist had been beaten by guards in the Simferopol prison. Clement said he was going to discuss the information about the incident he had learned from Balukh with his lawyer.

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"I've seen Volodymyr, talked to him, including about his health, and handed letters of support over to him. First, we will discuss some things with the lawyer; it will be followed by an official statement on this matter. I can only say that Volodymyr complains about pain in the heart, sometimes the pain is so acute that he suffocates and feels like vomiting," the Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea said.

Read alsoBalukh takes strong painkillers – 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 RUB 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.

Recently, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Akhtem Chiygoz reported that Balukh who is being kept in a Simferopol detention center had badly been beaten and faced death threats.

Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that evidence of the attack on Balukh would be transferred to courts.