Photo by Iryna Gerashchenko, Facebook

Co-chairperson of the European Solidarity parliamentary faction, Member of Parliament Iryna Gerashchenko says former political prisoner of the Kremlin Volodymyr Balukh, a resident of Crimea, is getting better after an attack in Kyiv early in September.

"I thank V. Balukh's doctors. News is good today and [here is] his first photo from the hospital. The doctors have informed Volodymyr is already trying to do the crossword puzzles:) In fact, these are rehabilitation exercises," she wrote on Facebook.

According to Gerashchenko, Balukh remains in the neurosurgery unit.

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"[He can] walk, gradually recovering, [he can] read. X-rays were taken today for comparison. The dynamics are positive," the MP added.

Photo by Iryna Gerashchenko, Facebook

Assault on Balukh: Background

  • Russia's former political prisoner Balukh was assaulted in Kyiv in the early hours of September 8. Meanwhile, September 7 marked a year since his successful return to Ukraine after he had been released from a Russian prison.
  • Balukh was found in the morning, with his arm and collarbone fractured.
  • He underwent surgery, having suffered a severe head injury. He has since then remained in serious but stable condition.
  • On September 11, Balukh was put in a medically induced coma.
  • On September 18, police detained a suspect in the attack on Balukh. It was a jobless 32-year-old resident of Kyiv region. He fully admitted his guilt, claiming it was a domestic assault.
  • He was indicted under Part 1 of Article 121 (intentional grievous bodily harm) of the Criminal Code.
  • On September 19, the court ruled to arrest the suspect for two months without the possibility of posting bail.
  • On October 5, Gerashchenko said Balukh had regained consciousness.
  • On October 12, he was transferred to neurosurgery.

Who is Volodymyr Balukh

  • Balukh is a Crimean farmer, who was detained by Russia's FSB Federal Security Service on December 8, 2016.
  • FSB operatives claimed they had allegedly found 90 ammunition rounds and several TNT explosives in his attic.
  • It is widely believed though that security operatives had detained the man for his firm political stance: he had a Ukrainian flag flying over his house, which he refused to remove despite persistent demands of local authorities, the KHPG watchdog reported.
  • On July 5, 2018, a Russian-controlled court in Crimea sentenced him to five years in a penal colony and a RUB 10,000 fine.
  • On October 3, 2018, the so-called "Supreme Court of Crimea" reviewed Balukh's original verdict and reduced his term to four years and 11 months.
  • On September 7, 2019, he was handed over to Ukraine as part of a major prisoner swap effort.