Russian authorities accused of ‘abducting’ Crimean rights activist

Danylovich is believed to have been detained by Russian authorities, but they declined to say if, where or by whom she is being held. “We’re assuming she’s still in jail,” Danylovich’s attorney, Helping Azamatov, told CNN.

Danylovich’s father, Bronislav, told the Krym.Realii news site, a Radio Liberty affiliate, that his daughter planned to take public transportation home on the morning of April 29, after finishing her shift. work in a medical institution in Koktebel, in the south-east of Crimea.

Azamatov said the nurse stopped answering her phone at that time.

Around the same time, Azamatov said, hooded officials from the Russian police special unit came to the house Danylovich shares with his parents in the village of Vladislavovka, near Feodosiya. Vladislavovka is about 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Koktebel.

He told CNN that officials who searched the family’s home told his father she had been sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest for “transferring unclassified information to a foreign state.”

But authorities refused to hand over a copy of the decision, according to Azamatov. He still has not seen any official documents regarding Danylovich’s arrest. He was not allowed to see his client.

“Iryna has no procedural status, that’s why they hide her from me,” he said.

Azamatov, Danylovich’s family and several human rights organizations have been looking for her in detention centers in several Crimean towns since her disappearance.

Azamatov said he himself checked seven remand centers and special detention centers in the region, without success.

Crimean authorities declined to comment. The duty officer of the prosecutor’s office in Russian-occupied Crimea referred CNN to authorities in Danylovich’s hometown.

When CNN reached the Feodosiya police station on Tuesday, the person who answered the call said they knew nothing about the case and hung up.

The Interior Ministry of Russian-occupied Crimea did not respond to a written request for comment. A phone number listed on its website is not reachable.

Iryna Danylovich has been missing since April 29.

On May 6, Danylovich’s 43rd birthday, human rights activists left gifts outside one of the detention centers, despite being told she was not being held there.

Through her work as a citizen journalist, Danylovich has exposed problems with Crimea’s health system, especially in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. She has written for a number of Ukrainian media outlets and posted her findings on Facebook.

“Iryna Danylovich’s abduction shows signs of enforced disappearance under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,” Zmina, a Ukrainian human rights NGO, said in a statement. a statement.

The term enforced disappearance describes disappearances either perpetrated by state actors or by others acting on behalf of or with the support of state authorities, followed by a refusal to disclose the person’s fate and whereabouts.

Because the authorities refuse to recognize the detention, the victim has no legal protection and the perpetrators are rarely prosecuted, according to the UN.

The UN says the practice is often used as a strategy to spread terror within society.

Other than verbally telling Danylovich’s father during the search that his daughter was arrested, authorities have never officially acknowledged her detention or provided a reason for her being detained.

“On May 7, the ninth day after his disappearance, [nothing is known] where does Iryna Danylovich live and in what status,” Zmina added.

Danylovich’s case is the latest in a series of disappearances of activists, journalists and ordinary citizens reported over the past decade in Crimea.

According to a report published in March 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Office documented at least 43 cases of enforced disappearances in Crimea between 2014 and 2018.
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The UN said it was mostly abductions and abductions and that some of the victims – 39 men and four women – had been subjected to ill-treatment and torture. Eleven of these men were still missing and one man was still in custody at the time of the report.

The UN said it was unable to document prosecutions related to any of the cases.

Azamatov said Danylovich’s parents told him that the people who entered their house were wearing civilian clothes. none of them introduced themselves or presented any identification. Instead, they read the warrant and started searching different rooms at the same time, the couple said.

They said officials had confiscated all electronic equipment, including three phones that no longer worked, and several books, including a publication by Viktor Suvorov.

Suvorov, real name Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun, is a former Soviet spy who defected to the UK and reinvented himself as an author of World War II books.

Danylovich’s parents told Azamatov that officers refused to leave them a copy of the list of seized items or a copy of the search report.

On May 2, Azamatov appealed to the authorities, and Danylovich’s parents filed a statement with the police.

“My appeals to the Crimean prosecutor’s office, the military prosecutor’s office, the military investigative commission and the Russian investigative commission have not yet been answered. There is an appeal to the police of the father, there is no answer yet,” Azamatov said.

Bronislav Danylovich said he saw security video that appeared to show the moment his daughter was abducted.

He told Krym.Realii that he saw CCTV footage from one of the gas stations outside Koktebel showing a woman, dressed in clothes similar to those Danylovich was wearing when she disappeared, standing at a bus stop.

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

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Azamatov told CNN that the gas station refused to hand over the footage and after seeing the video, Bronislav Danylovich filed a new statement with the police demanding that a criminal case be opened.

“Now we are waiting for a video of the place of his abduction, they promised to provide it so that I can study it,” Azamatov said.

Meanwhile, a group of 19 human rights institutions are appealing to United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union agencies and officials to help with Danylovich’s case.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Russian authorities in Crimea to “immediately provide any information regarding Danylovich’s fate and let the media operate freely.”

Gulnoza Said, coordinator of CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program, said in a statement. “The alarming disappearance of Iryna Danylovich raises fears of a further crackdown on independent reporting in Russian-occupied Crimea, which is already an extremely restrictive environment for the press.”

CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed reporting.

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