Crimean farmer Balukh, jailed for Ukrainian flag, must be freed – Gerashchenko
First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko has said that Ukraine must take all necessary steps to secure the release of Ukrainian citizen Volodymyr Balukh, who was convicted by a court in temporarily occupied Crimea.
"We must fight to return our territory and our people. Not all who are located in occupied territories are collaborators, as some political forces, who yell about relinquishing occupied areas, would have the public believe. There are people there who stamped on the Ukrainian flag, but there also remain thousands of Ukrainians, patriots and heroes. It's not the same to yell, "Glory to Ukraine!" in Lviv and Kyiv and wear vyshyvanka [embroidered Ukrainian] folk shirts as it is to write, "Glory to Ukraine" on a wall in occupied Donetsk and wave a Ukrainian flag in Crimea, which today overflows with Russian security agents. Volodymyr Balukh is a simple tractor driver, a true Ukrainian citizen, a real Ukrainian. We must bring him back," Gerashchenko said on her Facebook page on Friday.
Gerashchenko added that Ukraine is waiting for a statement from Council of Europe and other international organizations and leaders that condemns what happens "when Ukrainians are convicted in court for waving the Ukrainian flag."