Ukraine/Russia: Journalist Iryna Danilovich starts a dry hunger strike while in detention
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
RUS 006 / 0522 / OBS 034.3
Hunger strike /
Deterioration of health condition
Arbitrary detention /
Torture and ill-treatment
Ukraine / Russian Federation
March 29, 2023
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Russian-occupied Crimea.
The Observatory has been informed about the dry hunger strike initiated by Iryna Danilovich while in detention. Ms Danilovich is a nurse and a citizen journalist who has been working on disseminating the rights of 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 outlet on human rights “Inzhir Media”. She remains arbitrarily detained since April 2022 as reprisals for her work and criticism to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
On March 22, 2023, Iryna Danilovich started a dry hunger strike to protest the authorities' refusal to provide her with medical assistance in Detention Centre No. 1 in Simferopol, Crimea, where she remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal.
On March 21, 2023, Ms Danilovich fainted during her transfer to the Feodosia City Court, and the authorities refused to call an ambulance. She had been brought to the court so that she could get familiar with her case file. This is a procedure that precedes the detainee’s transfer to a prison facility after a verdict has been handed down, which enables the detainees and their lawyers to file an appeal. Ms Danilovich was sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2022 and due to her deteriorating health has been unable to read through her case file since then. Yet, according to her father, the administration of the detention centre claims Ms Danilovich has been examined by a doctor who attested that her medical condition does not preclude her from familiarising with the case file. Ms Danilovich’s lawyer is planning to file an appeal.
Since her abduction on April 29, 2022, and subsequent detention, Ms Danilovich’s health condition has seriously deteriorated. She has reported suffering from hearing loss, continuous headaches and problems with her coordination of movements. Furthermore, she suspects she has suffered a minor stroke. In December 2022, during a hearing, she declared feeling sick, but the doctor who examined her back then falsified the medical report, falsely stating that she refused a voluntary confinement in the hospital.
The Observatory recalls that on April 29, 2022, Iryna Danilovich was abducted, allegedly by Russian law enforcement officers, while she was commuting from the town of Koktebel to the city of Feodosia. On the same day, Russian authorities conducted a search in her house and seized all digital equipment and several books. Her whereabouts remained unknown for 13 days, eight of which she was kept in inhuman conditions in the basement of an FSB building. During that period, she was put a bag over her head, and was given access to a toilet only twice a day and one meal a day. She was subjected to a polygraph examination, while FSB officers threatened to take her to a forest or to Russian-occupied Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, should she hide information.
Iryna Danilovich was officially detained on May 7, 2022, when she was forced to sign blank sheets of paper. She was informed by FSB officers about the finding of two hundred grams of explosives in her handbag. Her relatives located her in a pre-detention centre in Simferopol on May 11, 2022, and two days later she appeared before the Court of the Kyiv District of Simferopol. The FSB Investigation Department opened a case against her for “illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of explosives or explosive devices”. She was denied family visits throughout the investigation period.
On December 28, 2022, the Feodosia City Court, Crimea, sentenced Iryna Danilovich to seven years of imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 Rubles (approximately 900 Euros) on the charge of “illegally purchasing and storing explosives” (Part 1, Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Ms Danilovich pleaded not guilty to the charge, maintaining that the evidence used against her - two hundred grams of explosives - was planted in her handbag by Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers after she was detained in April 2022.
The Observatory strongly condemns the authorities’ reluctance to provide Iryna Danilovich with medical assistance, as well as her ongoing arbitrary detention. The Observatory urges the Russian authorities in control of Crimea to guarantee in all circumstances her physical integrity and psychological well-being, including by granting her access to adequate and comprehensive medical treatment. The Observatory further urges the authorities to immediately release her, quash her prison sentence and put an end to all acts of harassment against her and all human rights defenders and journalists in Russian-occupied Crimea.
Please write to the authorities of Russia in Crimea, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Iryna Danilovich and grant her immediate and unconditional access to comprehensive medical treatment;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Iryna Danilovich, as her detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at intimidating her and diverting her from her legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Quash the prison sentence against Iryna Danilovich and put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the administrative and judicial levels - against her, 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;
iv. Guarantee Iryna Danilovich’s unhindered access to her family members;
v. Carry out an immediate, through and impartial investigation into the abduction and acts of torture and ill-treatment against Iryna Danilovich, including the refusal to provide her with medical treatment, while ensuring her protection, and bringing the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international standards.
- 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, E-mail: email@example.com
- Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), E-mail: 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.
Geneva-Paris, March 29, 2023
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 the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel. OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39
- Tel. FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
- Urgent Interventions
Ukraine/Russia: Abduction of citizen journalist Iryna Danilovich
- Urgent Interventions
Ukraine/Russia: Sentencing of citizen journalist Iryna Danilovich
- Urgent Interventions
Ukraine/Russia: Arrest and continuing arbitrary detention of Iryna Danilovich