Accessibility links

Breaking News

Four-Year Sentence Sought For Hunger-Striking Crimean Activist

Volodymyr Balukh
Volodymyr Balukh

SIMFEROPOL -- The prosecutor overseeing the second trial of a pro-Ukrainian activist in the annexed peninsula of Crimea asked for a four-year prison sentence against the man, who is currently on hunger strike.

Volodymyr Balukh was originally arrested in late 2016 and convicted on a weapons-and-explosives possession charge in August 2017. His conviction, and nearly four-year prison sentence, was reversed on appeal and returned to a lower court, which issued the same verdict and sentence in January.

The new case against Balukh was started three months later, in March, after the warden of the penal facility where he is being held sued him, claiming that Balukh attacked him.

On July 2, local prosecutor Dmitry Shmelev asked the Rozdolne district court for a new four-year prison sentence for the alleged attack.

Balukh, who started a hunger strike on March 19 to protest the new case, contends the prosecutions are politically motivated.

Balukh was arrested in December 2016 after the Russian security agents allegedly found explosives and ammunition in his house.

The search was conducted shortly after Balukh planted a Ukrainian flag in his yard and affixed a sign to his house honoring those killed in Kyiv in 2013 and 2014 during the street protests that ousted the country’s pro-Russian president.

Russia annexed Crimea about a month after the president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country.

Since that time, Russia has moved aggressively to prosecute Ukrainian activists and anyone who questions the annexation. Among those prosecuted are RFE/RL journalist Mykola Semena, who was convicted in September 2017 on separatism charges.

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

If you are in Russia and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.