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Russian Woman Jailed For High Treason On Hunger Strike Over Sanitary Condition In Cell

Antonina Zimin is now on a hunger strike.
Antonina Zimin is now on a hunger strike.

KALININGRAD, Russia -- The condition of a Russian woman who launched a dry hunger strike to protest against the "anti-sanitary conditions" of her prison cell is deteriorating rapidly.

Antonina Zimina's father, Konstantin Zimin, told RFE/RL on September 15 that his daughter, who was handed a 13-year prison sentence on high treason charges she denies, is refusing both food and water.

"Antonina has been on a dry hunger strike for five days. Death usually occurs around the seventh day," he said in noting her state of health.

Zimin said that his daughter started the hunger strike after she was moved to a so-called "transit" cell in the detention center in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on September 7, from which convicts are sent to prisons to serve their terms.

Zimina informed her father by letter that there were 15 women in the cell and that the toilets and sewage system did not work. After the detention center's administration ignored the women's request to fix the toilet and sewage, Zimina started the hunger strike and four other women joined her.

Zimina and her husband, Konstantin Antonets, were convicted of spying for Latvia, in December. The charges against them stemmed from a wedding photo that included an officer of the Federal Security Service.

Antonets was handed a 12 1/2 years prison sentence. The couple has denied any wrongdoing ever since they were first arrested in July 2018.

On September 15, Russia's Supreme Court rejected the couple's appeal and upheld their sentences.

In recent years, the number of cases of alleged high treason has increased dramatically in Russia.

One of the latest high-profile high treason cases involves Ivan Safronov, a journalist and an aide to Russian Roskosmos space agency chief, Dmitry Rogozin.

Safronov was arrested on July 7 and later charged with passing classified materials to the Czech Republic. Safronov and his supporters reject the charge.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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