Balukh Says Russia Tortured and Forced Citizenship on Him
The former political prisoner considered the Russia passport as a form of moral torture
Photo from Ukrinform – UATV
Ukrainian political prisoner Volodymyr Balukh, which has been recently released from a Russian prison, was issued a Russian passport without his consent.
“We were not talking about any Russian passport as no one would write any statement. There was written on that decision [on the issuance of a Russian passport] that I got acquainted with it but consider it to be torture, just psychological torture,” Balukh said at a press conference, a Ukrinform correspondent reports.
Balukh noted that an officer of the Kerch department of the so-called Interior Ministry of occupied Crimea decided, at his sole discretion, that Balukh was a citizen of Russia. After that, Ukrainian consuls were not allowed to visit Balukh because he allegedly had a Russian passport.
As lawyer Dmitry Dinze noted, the issuance of Russian passports to Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia is a common practice that prevents Ukrainian consuls from obtaining permits to visit them.
Balukh is a Crimean farmer. He hoisted a Ukrainian flag on his house and later hung a plate “The Heroes of Heavenly Hundred Street” on his house.
The Federal Security Service of Russia detained Balukh in his house in the village of Serebrianka, Rozdolne district of Crimea, on December 8, 2016. The FSB officers claimed that they had found 90 cartridges and several TNT blocks in the attic of his house.
A Kremlin-controlled court in Crimea sentenced Balukh to 4 years and 11 months in prison and a financial penalty as well.
The Memorial human rights center recognized him as a political prisoner.
From March 29, 2019, Balukh was held in a penal colony in Torzhok in Tver region of Russia.
During his detention, he claims to have been physically tortured.
“They were forcibly splitting my legs, hitting my legs, liver and kidney areas. They beat me from behind. I stood facing the wall, stretched out in horrible physical pain,” Balukh said.
According to him, he was tortured not only during interrogations but also after the sentence had been imposed.
Dinze said that Balukh was always opposed to the “system.” The human rights activist noted that all political prisoners in the Russian Federation survived torture, moral abuse and repression.
The Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimean of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Klement said that he had repeatedly visited Balukh in prison as a public defender because the invaders did not allow him to serve as a priest.
Earlier it was reported that on September 26, 2019, the Torzhotsky Interdistrict Court of the Tver region of the Russian Federation will consider his complaint pertaining to his unjust imprisonment.
Balukh returned to Ukraine on September 7, 2019 as a result of the prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia.