September 29, 2022

Russian authorities accused of ‘abducting’ Crimean human rights activist

5 min read

Danilovich is thought to have been detained by Russian authorities, but declined to say where or by whom he was being held. “We assume he is still in prison,” Danilovich’s lawyer Eder Izmatov told CNN.

Danilovich’s father, Bronislaw, told Radio Liberty’s news site Krym.Realii that his daughter planned to take public transport home on the morning of April 29 after completing her shift at a medical facility in Cocktail, southeastern Crimea.

Azmatov said the nurse stopped answering his phone at that time.

At the same time, Azematov said, the Russian Special Police Unit in balaclavas came to Danilovich’s house with his parents in the village of Vladislavoka, near Feudosia. Vladislavovka is approximately 34 km (21 miles) from Koktebel.

He told CNN that family members searched his home and told his father he had been sentenced to 10 days in administrative detention for “transferring undisclosed information to a foreign state.”

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But according to Azmatov, authorities have refused to hand over a copy of the decision. He has not yet seen any official documents regarding Danilovich’s arrest. He is not allowed access to his client.

“Irina has no procedure, that’s why they hide it from me,” he said.

Izmatov, Danilovich’s family and various human rights organizations have been searching for him in detention centers in several Crimean cities since his disappearance.

Azmatov said he had personally inspected seven pre-trial detention centers and special detention centers throughout the region, with no success.

Crimean authorities have declined to comment. An officer on duty at the Russian-occupied Crimean prosecutor’s office turned CNN over to authorities in Danilovich’s hometown.

When CNN reached the Feudosia police station on Tuesday, the man who answered the call said he knew nothing about the case and hung up.

The Russian Interior Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. The phone number listed on its website is not accessible.

Irina Danilovich has been missing since April 29.

On May 6 – Danilovich’s 43rd birthday – human rights activists left gifts outside one of the detention centers until they were told they were not being held there.

Through his work as a citizen journalist, Danilovich has exposed problems in Crimea’s healthcare system, including its response to the corona virus epidemic. He has written for several Ukrainian media outlets and published his findings on Facebook.

Zemina, a Ukrainian human rights NGO, said in a statement: “The abduction of Irina Danilovich shows signs of enforced disappearance.

The term enforced disappearance refers to disappearances that have been made either by state actors or by state officials or other persons working in its support, after which the person’s fate and whereabouts are revealed. Is denied

According to the United Nations, because the authorities refuse to recognize the detention, the victim has no legal protection and the perpetrators are rarely prosecuted.

The United Nations says the practice is often used as a tactic to spread terror in society.

During the search, Danilovich’s father verbally stated that his daughter had been arrested, but authorities never officially acknowledged her detention or gave any reason for her detention. Is.

“On May 7, the ninth day after his disappearance, [nothing is known] About where Irina Danilovich lives and in what condition she lives, “Zamina added.

Danilovich’s case is the latest in a series of disappearances of workers, journalists and civilians in Crimea over the past decade.

According to a report published in March 2021, the UN Office for Human Rights has documented. At least 43 cases of enforced disappearances Between 2014 and 2018 in Crimea.
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The United Nations said most of the abductions and kidnappings took place and that some of the victims – 39 men and four women – had been mistreated and tortured. Eleven of them went missing, and one remained in custody at the time of the report.

The United Nations has said it has not been able to document any legal action in any of the cases.

Azmatov said Danilovich’s parents told him that those who entered his house were dressed in plain clothes. None of them introduced themselves or identified themselves. The couple said that instead they read the warrant and started looking for different rooms at the same time.

Authorities confiscated all electronic devices, including three phones that no longer work, and several books, including a publication by Viktor Sovorov, he said.

Sovorov, whose real name is Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezon, is a former Soviet spy who defected from Britain and rediscovered himself as the author of books on World War II.

Danilovich’s parents told Azmatov that officers refused to give them a list of confiscated items or a copy of the search report.

On May 2, Azimov appealed to authorities, and Danilovich’s parents filed a statement with police.

“My appeals to the Crimean Prosecutor’s Office, the Military Prosecutor’s Office, the Military Investigative Ghetto Committee and the Russian Investigative Committee have not yet been answered. The father has appealed to the police, but no response has been received.” Said

Bronislaw Denilovich said he had seen a security video showing the moment his daughter was abducted.

He told Krym.Realii that he showed CCTV footage of a gas station exiting the cocktail to a woman who was standing at a bus stop in a dress worn by Danilovich when she went missing.

He said the clip showed a black car climbing, several people dressed in civilian clothes jumping out and – despite the woman’s resistance – pushing her into the car.

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Azmatov told CNN that the gas station refused to hand over the footage, and that after watching the video, Bronislaw Danilovich filed a new statement with police, demanding that a criminal case be opened.

“We are now waiting for a video from the scene of his abduction. He promised to provide it so that I could read it,” Azmatov said.

Meanwhile, a group of 19 human rights organizations is appealing to UN, Council of Europe and EU agencies and authorities for help in Danilovich’s case.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Russian authorities in Crimea to “immediately come forward with any information regarding Danilovich’s whereabouts and allow the media to operate freely.”

This was stated in a statement by the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator, Gulnoza Saeed. “The alarming disappearance of Irina Danilovich raises the possibility of another ban on independent reporting in Russian-occupied Crimea, which is already a very limited environment for the press.”

CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed to the reporting.

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