The U.S. condemned the decision of the Kremlin-controlled court in occupied Crimea that sentenced Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh on charges on weapon possession, as U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Harry Kamian told the Permanent Council in Vienna. The statement is published on the website of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE.
“We also note with concern the January 16 conviction by occupation authorities of Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Balukh on baseless weapons possession charges in retaliation for his public displays of Ukrainian patriotic symbols,” Kaiman said.
Moreover, he reiterated the U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
“The United States fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders. We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of Crimea. Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine,” he said.
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.After that, he was sentenced to three years and seven months of imprisonment.