He didn’t succumb to the pressure and tortures of the invaders and calls the enemy – the enemy. Ukrainian flag is not just a two-striped cloth for him. He believes in justice and victory of our country even despite total injustice and miserable mendacity of the invader. About Balukh’s captivity, hunger strike, Ukraine and resistance to the aggressor – from the letters of the Ukrainian political prisoner in the section “Who is” on Opinion.
The invaders detained Volodymyr Balukh in December 2016 and allegedly accused him of illegally storing ammunition, for which he was sentenced to 3 years and 7 months. Later, the Kremlin accused the Ukrainian of beating the policeman. The political prisoner didn’t plead guilty, and the “court”, despite the apparent fabrication of the case, sentenced him to 4 years and 11 months of the general regime colony.
About his captivity
Balukh’s imprisonment seems to be a matter of pride: he has not deviated from his principles and ideals, has not given up his views and has not been subjected to the pressure of the invaders. In correspondence with the president, the political prisoner stressed that he considers it an honour to be one of those for whom our country is fighting.
“I’m honoured to be one of those for whose liberation all Ukraine is struggling. I’m sure that Ukraine will defend its right to live in and adequately manage Crimea and Donbas more quickly than it is hoped for in the Kremlin clique and the fact of taking citizens of another state hostage will play not the last role in it.”
However, the conditions in which an unlawfully imprisoned Ukrainian is kept don’t add optimism. In his letters, Balukh tells a few things about this, but not complaining. At the beginning of May this year, the political prisoner told in the letter to one of the activist that he is fed only on bread and that the temperature in the detained centre is rather low.
“As for the trip without warm things, it turned out to be much more comfortable than staying in the colony itself. Never before I had experienced such a concentration of sensation of cold per unit of elapsed time. I’m kept is the detained centre for three weeks. From the 16th, the heating was turned off… As a warm-loving dweller of the south, who, moreover, is fed exclusively on bread for the past month and a half (it’s “forbidden” to eat from transfers to jail), this is a hard challenge.”
At the same time, Balukh confesses: staying in a solitary confinement cell induces the thoughts that human life is a blink. After all, the political prisoner admits: staying in jail puts its imprints. Same as, perhaps, perverse behaviour of “staff” of the colony.
“My embroidered shirt and a T-shirt “with Cossack” together with other stuff were stolen in the Kerch colony by the so-called “staff”… Well, on May 16 (Day of the struggle for the rights of the Crimean Tatar people, – Ed.) I won’t be able to dress in my finest feather with a Ukrainian genetic code. Moreover, today my detention has been extended for 15 days, and here everything is forbidden. But in my thoughts and heart, I am with all Ukrainians.”
However, even there, behind the bars of the occupation regime and the watchful supervision of imperial madness, one can find like-minded people who don’t bow their heads to the enemy.
“Tellingly, on June 12 – the day which the Kremlin has recently appointed as “the day of Russia” – there were fireworks in Simferopol when from the windows of jail numerous prisoners sang unanimously “Glory to Ukraine” and Ukrainian anthem… This is a genuine truth of the witness whom I unwillingly became.”
About his hunger strike
Balukh began an indefinite hunger strike on March 19, 2018, which lasted 200 days and was interrupted before his displacement to the colony. In his letter, he explained: being guided by common-sense sprouts or hints of honour, he decided to stop hunger strike and try to keep himself “in this oxymoron”. In the same letter, the prisoner said that he doesn’t want his body to be left in the territory of the enemy in case of his death.
“Honour and dignity of my People defended on the Maidan at expense of the lives of the Heroes of Heavenly Hundred, are worth more than my single life. That’s why I don’t allow myself to eat from the hands of the invaders or to wear their prisoner garment. Realizing the consequences of the effective observance of this statement, I appeal to you and ask you to fulfil my last will: in the event of my physical or mental death, don’t leave my body in the occupied territory. The choice of place of burying the body I leave to my family – I would prefer a rural area on the shore of Dnipro, not far from Kyiv… With an insurmountable belief in the happiness of Ukraine, I hand my destiny to the hands of the Almighty. A low bow to everyone who loves Ukraine, cares about its preservation and development! “
About Ukraine, genetic code and response to the aggressor
“I am infinitely grateful to God, to my parents and my people for having a soul from birth, embroidered with red-and-black periwinkles by caring hands of my mother! Thank you for the love in which I’m bathing all my life, for the genetic code that gives the ability to see true beauty, to appreciate it, sing to it with the magic language and understand that its authenticity is exclusively made of Honor, Dignity and Truth,” so one of the letters begins.
Balukh is convinced that one of the main tasks of the Ukrainian authorities is to save our country from the “mirror” response to the actions of the aggressor.
“There’s no evil for good! Again rebuilding the statehood, Ukraine, in my opinion, should take the best examples of Ukrainian Cossack chivalry, traditional Christian tolerance and traditional peasant perseverance in the future.”
He understands that being in Russia’s imprisonment to observe the political life of the state is objectively extremely difficult, but the information that still comes gives Balukh extraordinary optimism and faith.
“From the place, where I am being held now, it is difficult to objectively assess the completeness and effectiveness of the State’s efforts to counteract the influence of the Kremlin’s propaganda on its citizens’ attitude and the attitude of the governments of other countries of the world towards its policies, but the fact that Ukraine doesn’t lag behind gives some optimism and belief that ruined fates and neglected families of the politically imprisoned Ukrainians were not in vain and will not remain behind this process.”
In the end, Balukh sums up: the most important thing now is that Ukraine has to stand up, which means to win.
About the invader, truth and resistance
Volodymyr keeps to one judgement of Russia’s actions. He is convinced: the truth is that the Kremlin’s adepts killed the heroes on Maidan, who were named “Heavenly Hundred”. The truth is that the Ukrainian flag symbolizes a dignified reigning on our land.
“The truth is that voracious Kremlin, mad with Ukrainian recusancy, rushed to cut from Ukraine’s body at least some pieces of its lands to weaken it and humiliate in front of the world. The truth is that its (Kremlin’s) power on the temporarily occupated territories, as on the 1/7 of the land in general, is based on the totally lying propaganda and threatening of disobedient.
The truth is that Kremlin is more afraid of one single word of Truth than of gunshots and ballistic missile launches. Farce written by traitors of Ukraine together with Kremlin’s pals and third for the last two years sentence unquestioningly prove it.
A picture of general wellness created by Moscow propaganda is falling apart when there is understanding in what way it is drawn. They forced a hundred thousand of Crimeans to be silent and wait for better times, demonstratively punishing those who can’t agree with humiliation.”
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel