A judge of Rozdilnensky district court in the annexed Crimea sentenced defendant Volodymyr Balukh to three years and seven months in penal settlement on the occupied peninsula. He will also pay the fine of 20,000 Russian rubles (roughly U.S 355 dollars).
The Ukrainian government decisively condemned the decision. The press service of the authority reported that on Tuesday evening. ‘Judging Volodymyr Balukh, sentencing him to three years and seven months in penal settlement under trumped-up charges is a proof that the Kremlin carries on with the policy of repressions and intimidation of Ukrainian citizens in the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula’, reads the message.
The Ukrainian authority demands that Russia cease to violate the rights and freedoms of residents of Crimea and release Balukh as well as other illegally detained Ukrainians.
Volodymyr Balukh, the detained Ukrainian citizen was charged with illegal storage of ammunition and explosives.
On Monday, the prosecution asked the jury to sentence the defendant to five years-long term in a penal colony settlement and the 20,000-ruble fine.
Krym.Realii news portal quoted the prosecution, which said that Balukh’s guilt was ‘fully proved’, while the defense ‘never provided any evidence proving his innocence’. The lawyer, in turn, said that the evidence gathered during the searches were recovered in contravention of the law.
In December 2013, when the Euromaidan movement began in Ukraine, Balukh supported its activists and hoisted a Ukrainian flag over his house. It remained there – even after the so-called referendum in Crimea in spring 2014 when people were forced to vote for Crimea’s recognition as part of the Russian Federation. Balukh said he never recognized the peninsula as part of Russia.
Volodymyr Balukh was detained by the Russian FSB (federal security service) in his house in December 2016. The law enforcers said they found 90 cartridges and several TNT blocks on the house’s rooftop. The man’s relatives say the ammunition and explosives were flaked by the FSB. The court arrested him until early February 2017 and then extended the time until September.