To the President of Ukraine
Presidential Administration of Ukraine
11 Bankova, Kyiv, Ukraine 01220
on conferring the title of the Hero of Ukraine on Volodymyr Balukh
Dear Mr. President!
We address you on behalf of the Crimean community – displaced people, Crimean media, Ukrainian human rights and civil society organizations. It has been almost four years since the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol were occupied by Russia, and lawless persecution and repressions against those opposing the occupation in a peaceful manner never stop. Despite the cruelty of Russia’s repression machine, the fighting spirit in the peninsula is still strong thanks to the efforts of select individuals that publicly support Ukraine and in this way refute the claims of Russian propaganda that “all Crimeans volunteered to join Russia” and “the whole peninsula is behind Russia”, giving Ukrainian citizens hope that the peninsula will be returned to Ukraine.
One of such Ukrainians is Volodymyr Balukh, Crimean farmer from the village of Serebrianka in Rozdolnenskyi District, who four years straight practically on his own has been fighting the oppressive Russian regime in Crimea, the regime he fell victim to because of his public pro-Ukrainian position.
In 2014 Volodymyr Balukh refused to accept Russian authority in Crimea, raising the Ukrainian flag over his home. At the end of 2016 he attached a plaque to the wall of his house with the words “Heavenly Hundred Heroes Street” (in memory of the civilian protesters killed at the Maidan in Kyiv in February 2014).
It was due to his open support for Ukraine that Russia’s FSB began persecuting him. First they searched his home twice, demanding that he take down the flag. After Volodymyr Balukh refused, he was first placed under administrative arrest, and in December 2016 they “unexpectedly” found ammunition in his house and cooked up a criminal case against him on charges of ammunition possession.
For a year Volodymyr Balukh had been unlawfully kept in a pre-trial detention facility in Simferopol, where he had to endure both oral abuse and physical torture, which in the end cost him his health. However, he refused all offers made by investigators to admit his “guilt” in exchange for a milder punishment.
Here‘s how he explained it in court: “I don’t want my descendants, all children of Ukraine, to reproach me for my weakness one day.”
On January 16, 2018 “judge” Olena Tedeyeva unlawfully sentenced Volodymyr Balukh to 3 years and 7 months imprisonment as well as a fine of 10 000 rubles. Currently yet another criminal case has been opened against him, on charges of “causing disorganization in penitentiary facilities”. Here’s what actually happened: head of the pre-trial detention facility in Rozdolny Valeriy Tkachenko assaulted the activist, but the case was turned against Balukh, making him the “attacker”. Furthermore, Volodymyr notes that the administration of the detention facility he was held in insulted him numerous times, particularly his Ukrainian nationality.
Currently Volodymyr Balukh is unlawfully kept at a pre-trial detention facility in Simferopol, waiting for another groundless sentence of occupation authorities and several years in a colony.
Well-respected human rights and international organizations declared prosecution of Volodymyr Balukh a politically motivated agenda.
We believe that the position and actions of Volodymyr Balukh are an example of sacrifice for the sake of supporting Ukraine in a territory currently controlled by the enemy – under incredibly dangerous conditions, which satisfies the criteria of a “heroic deed for building and developing sovereign Ukraine, in accordance with the Order of the President of Ukraine “On the title of the Hero of Ukraine”.
Therefore we request that you confer the title of the Hero of Ukraine on Volodymyr Balukh. It’s the least that the state can do today to show support to one of its patriots, who gave his own freedom to uphold the independence of Ukraine and values of the Ukrainian people in the hardest times of our history.
The title of the Hero of Ukraine had been somewhat tarnished in the past, since it was often granted for political loyalty – proximity to the seat of power, connections of one’s family and friends, etc. As a result, several such Heroes of Ukraine betrayed Ukraine in Crimea, defecting to Russia in 2014.
Therefore, in our opinion, it is time to fill this title with a positive sense, as a thanks to those who risk their own life to support Ukraine for the sake of our European future.
From the start of Russian occupation of Crimea, only two Crimeans have been granted the title of the Hero of Ukraine, and they are no longer among the living: Reshat Ametov and Serghiy Kemskyi, titles granted posthumously. We believe that Volodymyr Balukh is worthy of this title in life. Ukrainian journalists, human rights activists, public figures and other Ukrainian citizens also share and support this idea.
Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea
Ukrainian Orthodox Church
of the Kyivan Patriarchate Klyment
Head of the Crimean Center for Business and
Ukrainian House Serghiy Kovalskyi
Head of Crimea branch
Shevchenko Scientific Society Petro Volvach
National Publishing House Andriy Shchekun
Head of the Board
Crimean Human Rights Group Olga Skrypnyk
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union Olexander Pavlichenko
Head of the Board
Human Rights Information Center Tetiana Pechonchyk
Investigative Journalism Center Valentyna Samar
Krymska Svitlytsia newspaper Viktor Merzhvynskyi
Voice of Crimea Liudmyla Shchekun
Coordinator of Tavria
Humanitarian Platform Andriy Ivanets
Program Director at Crimean House Alim Aliyev
Head of the Association of the Families of Kremlin’s Political Prisoners Igor Kotelianets
Crimean journalist Serghiy Mokrushyn
Crimean journalist Tetiana Kurmanova
Crimean journalist Natalia Kokorina
Union of Forced Resettlers Volodymyr Liashenko
Head of the Ukrainian Community of Crimea Vladyslav Khmelovskyi
Head of the Center
for Civil Education Almenda Valentyna Potapova
Officer, ATO veteran Veldar Shukurdzhyiev
Head of the Board
Crimean Tatar Resource Center Eskender Bariyev
Head of the Board of the Center for Civil Liberties Olexandra Matviychuk
Head of the Board of the Crimean Institute
for Strategic Studies Arsen Zhumadilov
Head of the Board of Crimea SOS Tamila Tasheva
Director of QHA news agency Gayana Yuksel
Head of the Regional Center for Human Rights Anastasiya Martynovska
ynmflcbc, ragnaaup, 2 July 2018, 0:11