Ukraine/Russia: Abduction of citizen journalist Iryna Danilovich
RUS 006 / 0522 / OBS 034
Arbitrary arrest /
Ukraine / Russian Federation
May 4, 2022
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Crimea, Ukrainian region being occupied by the Russian Federation.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary arrest of Ms. Iryna Danilovich, a nurse and a citizen journalist who has been working on disseminating the rights of the medical workers and the problems in the healthcare system in her media project called “Crimean Medicine Without Cover”. She has also collaborated with the citizen journalism human rights media outlet “Inzhir Media”. Since February 24, 2022, she has been critical about Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
On April 29, 2022, Iryna Danilovich was abducted on her way from her workplace in the town of Koktobel to the city of Feodosia allegedly by Russian law enforcement officers. It is known that on that day she finished work at around 9 am at the Malachite Rehabilitation Centre and was going to take a public transport to go home. Her fate and whereabouts remain unknown since her abduction.
On the same day, at around 10 am, Russian authorities conducted a search in her house in the village of Vladyslavivka near the city of Feodosia. They were in civilian clothes and failed to identify themselves. They read out an alleged court ruling mentioning "connections with a foreign state”, authorising the search and ordering a 10-day administrative arrest period. During the search, all digital equipment, including three non-working phones were seized, together with several books. They also refused to leave a record of the seized equipment.
Iryna Danilovich’s lawyer filed a complaint before the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office regarding her enforced disappearance. Until this day, her lawyer and family were not able to reach any information about her.
The Observatory underlines that following the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, a phenomenon of civic journalism emerged, as the occupying authorities established a blanket censorship on traditional media. Citizens who had not previously worked as journalists, including Iryna Danilovich, started documenting human rights violations, and photographing and filming raids and searches of homes and offices, especially those targeting Crimean Tatars.
The Observatory recalls that, in this framework, Vladyslav Yesypenko, Ukranian journalist of “Radio Liberty”, was convicted of possession of explosives and sentenced to six years of prison in a colony and a fine after being detained on March 2021 by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in Crimea. He was detained incommunicado and subjected to torture to extract to seek evidence. The Russian FSB stated that Yesypenko allegedly "conducted intelligence and subversive activities in the interests of Ukrainian special services," namely, "photographed and videotaped areas, livelihoods, and places of mass stay in the Crimea." Mr. Yesypenko’s conviction is exemplary regarding the criminalisation of journalists who defend freedom of speech and media independence in occupied Crimea.
The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the abduction of Iryna Danilovich and urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally disclose her whereabouts, release her and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the administrative and judicial levels, against her and all human rights defenders and journalists in Crimea.
Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Iryna Danilovich, her family and all other human rights defenders in Crimea;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally disclose Iryna Danilovich’s whereabouts and release her as her arrest is arbitrary and merely aimed at intimidating her and diverting her from her legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Guarantee Iryna Danilovich’s unhindered access to her family members and to a lawyer of her own or her family’s choosing;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Iryna Danilovich, her family and all other human rights defenders in Crimea, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.
- Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
- Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
- Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, email@example.com
- Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: email@example.com
- Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, May 4, 2022
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel. FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
- Tel. OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39