Ukraine/Russia: Arrest and continuing arbitrary detention of citizen journalist Iryna Danilovich

The-movement-2000 / Creative Commons

New information
RUS 006 / 0522 / OBS 034.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Torture and ill-treatment
Ukraine / Russian Federation
May 19, 2022

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.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed about the arrest and continuing arbitrary detention of Ms. Iryna Danilovich following her abduction on April 29, 2022. Iryna Danilovich, a nurse and a citizen journalist, 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”. Since February 24, 2022, she has been critical about Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

On May 11, 2022, Iryna Danilovich’s relatives located the woman human rights defender in pre-detention centre in Simferopol, Crimea. The Observatory underlines that her whereabouts had been unknown for 13 days, following her abduction on April , 29 2022. According to reliable information, Iryna Danilovich was detained in inhuman conditions in the basement of a Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) building for eight days. She was put a bag over her head, and she was given access to a toilet only twice a day and one meal a day. FSB officers conducted a polygraph examination of Iryna Danilovich, while threatening to take her to a forest or to Russian-occupied Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, should she hide information.

On May 7, 2022, Iryna Danilovich was officially detained and FSB officers forced her to sign blank forms and later informed her about two hundred grams of explosives found during searches of her house. On May 13, 2022, she appeared before the Court of the Kyiv District of Simferopol. The FSB Investigation Department reportedly built a case against her for “illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of explosives or explosive devices” (Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). As a suspect, she was imposed two months of imprisonment as a preventive measure. Ms. Danilovich was represented by a State appointed lawyer while she had her own lawyer, who had consistently been denied access to his client and could only access the courtroom to attend the last minutes of the hearing.

On May 6, 2022, Ms. Danilovich’s chosen lawyer had accessed the pre-trial detention centre in Simferopol, in the framework of an independent search for Ms. Danilovich carried out by her lawyers, relatives and friends. At the time, police officers denied Iryna Danilovich was held at this detention centre.

The Observatory notes that on May 5, 2022, Iryna Danilovich’s relatives, in the framework of the independent search for the woman rights defender, were able to collect a surveillance recording from a gas station dating from April 29, 2022, in which four men in civilian clothes drag a woman suspected to be Iryna Danilovich into a car, proving her abduction.

The Observatory recalls that 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. On the same day, Russian authorities conducted a search in her house in the village of Vladyslavivka near the city of Feodosia. 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. Following her abduction, Iryna Danilovich’s lawyer filed a complaint before the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office regarding her enforced disappearance. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, there was no information available about any investigation launched into the circumstances surrounding Iryna Danilovich’s abduction.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention and acts of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated against Iryna Danilovich. The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally 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.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Iryna Danilovichand all other human rights defenders in Crimea;

- 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;

- Guarantee Iryna Danilovich’sunhindered access to her family members and to a lawyer of her own or her family’s choosing;

- Carry out an immediate, through and impartial investigation into the abduction and acts of torture and ill-treatment against Iryna Danilovich, while ensuring her protection, publishing the results and bringing the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international standards;

- Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the administrative and judicial levels - against Iryna Danilovich, 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.

Addresses:

- 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: ministry@mid.ru
- Mr. Igor Krasnov, General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, pressa@genproc.gov.ru
- Mr. Alexander Bortnikov, Director of Federal Security Service (FSS), fsb@fsb.ru
- Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
- Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: mission.russian@vtxnet.ch
- Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France, Email: russia.coe@orange.fr

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, May 19, 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

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