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Woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich listed as a "media foreign agent" in Russia

Status: 
Listed as a "media foreign agent"
About the situation

On 27 May 2022, an appeal against the measure of restraint for Irina Danilovich was rejected by the Crimean Supreme Court. On 7 May 2022, the measure of restraint – 1 month and 29 days imprisonment – was chosen for Irina Danilovich, who was suspected of “illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or carrying of explosives or explosive devices” as per Part 1, Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The woman human rights defender was abducted on 29 April 2022 in Koktebel, when returning home from work. Her whereabouts remained unknown for 13 days after her abduction, until she was located in the pre-detention centre in Simferopol on 11 May 2022. Currently, Irina Danilovich is being held in a general cell in the pre-trial detention center in Simferopol with 13 oher people in the room.

On 29 April 2022, woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich was reportedly abducted in Koktebel, Crimea. Irina Danilovich went missing when returning home from work. On the same day the woman human rights defenders house was searched by special police units OMON who informed her relatives that there is an administrative arrest order issued against the defender. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.

About the HRD

 Irina Danilovich is a human rights defender and civic journalist who exposes problems of the health care system in Crimea, including in response to the coronavirus pandemic. She also works as a medical personnel and has been advocating for the rights of health workers through their professional trade union and her own project “Crimean medicine without a cover”. The woman human rights defender cooperates with many independent media outlets, including “INжир” and “Crimean Process” that reports on court hearings on politically motivated cases in Crimea.

9 June 2022
Woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich listed as a "media foreign agent" in Russia

On Friday 3 June 2022, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation listed woman human rights defender, Irina Danilovich, as a "media outlet foreign agent." Currently, this is the most extended list of foreign agents in Russia, comprised of journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders, and public personalities. Inclusion in the list is a retaliation for vocal opposition to the Russian Government's actions and non-violent human rights work.

Irina Danilovich is a human rights defender and civic journalist who exposes problems of the health care system in Crimea, including in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also works as medical personnel and has been advocating for the rights of health workers through their professional trade union and her project, Crimean Medicine without A Cover. The woman human rights defender cooperates with many independent media outlets, including "INжир" and "Crimean Process" which reports on court hearings on politically motivated cases in Crimea.

On Friday 3 June 2022, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation listed woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich as a "media outlet foreign agent." Currently, this is the most extended list of foreign agents in Russia, comprised of journalists, media outlets, human rights defenders, and public personalities. The inclusion in the "media outlet foreign agent" list suggests that an individual/entity is acting as a foreign agent, engages in "political activity," and receives "foreign funding." However, the "foreign agent" label has been used to suppress dissent in Russia and the territories it annexed. Inclusion in the list is retaliation for vocal opposition to the Russian Government's actions and peaceful human rights work in the country and the Russian-annexed territories of Ukraine.

On 29 April 2022, the woman human rights defender was abducted and disappeared in Koktebel, Crimea. The same day the Russian SWAT team (OMON) raided the premises of her house, without presenting any justifying documentation, and seized laptops and phones. Irina Danilovich’s whereabouts remained unknown for 13 days until her attorney located her in the pre-detention center in Simferopol on 11 May 2022. The Russian State accused the woman human rights defender of "illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or carrying of explosives or explosive devices" as per Part 1, Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. She will now remain in pre-trial detention until the beginning of June 2022.

Front Line Defenders continues to express concerns about the abduction, detention on the trumped-up charges, and ill-treatment while in detention of woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich. Front Line Defenders sees the inclusion of Irina Danilovich in the list of the "media outlet foreign agents" as yet another confirmation that her abduction and detention are retaliation for WHRD's peaceful human rights and journalistic work. Front Line Defenders also reiterates an overall concern with the Russian Government's continued use of foreign agents laws to suppress human rights work in the country.

30 May 2022
Woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich’s appeal of restrictive measures denied

On 27 May 2022, an appeal against the measure of restraint for Irina Danilovich was rejected by the Crimean Supreme Court. On 7 May 2022, the measure of restraint – 1 month and 29 days imprisonment – was chosen for Irina Danilovich, who was suspected of “illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or carrying of explosives or explosive devices” as per Part 1, Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The woman human rights defender was abducted on 29 April 2022 in Koktebel, when returning home from work. Her whereabouts remained unknown for 13 days after her abduction, until she was located in the pre-detention centre in Simferopol on 11 May 2022. Currently, Irina Danilovich is being held in a general cell in the pre-trial detention center in Simferopol with 13 oher people in the room.

On 27 May 2022, the Crimean Supreme Court rejected the appeal against the measure of restraint for Irina Danilovich and left her in custody for two months. According to the case file, Irina Danilovich was detained on 7 May 2022. A criminal case was opened against her on the same day for the illegal acquisition and possession of explosives, allegedly found in her glasses case. The case file contains a conclusion by a specialist that the items confiscated from Irina Danilovich are improvised explosive devices. The Kyiv District Court arrested her for two months, believing that having a Ukrainian passport, she could escape. The woman human rights defender was handed an indictment in the presence of her lawyer on 13 May 2022.

The woman human rights defender’s defence stressed at court that Irina Danilovich was in fact detained on 29 April 2022, and not on 7 May 2022, as is stated in the case file. Furthermore, her defence stressed that the explosives were discovered in her glasses case after she was detained. Irina Danilovich said at the hearing: “When I was brought to the FSB (Federal Security Service) building, I went through a full body search recorded on a video camera. There were no explosives in my bag, and my glasses were in my case. Three days later, my bag was taken again. After that the explosives were found.”

Irina Danilovich confirmed to her lawyer that between 29 April 2022 and 7 May 2022, she was held in the basement of the FSB headquarters in Simferopol under constant psychological pressure. There was no toilet in her cell, she was taken out twice a day and fed only once a day. All this time, FSB investigators insisted that the woman human rights defender signs a confession. They put a bag over her head and offered her a choice – a forest or a prison. They threatened to take her to Mariupol, where she would be “lost”. For three days she was interrogated using a polygraph, asking questions about her connections with foreign intelligence services, the media and organisations, as well as her involvement with Crimean Solidarity, an organisation of activists, lawyers and relatives of Crimean political prisoners. Irina Danilovich answered negatively to all questions and the polygraph confirmed this.

Later, FSB officers forced the woman human rights defender to sign a protocols document, which she was not allowed to read, and so the content of which remains unknown. She was also forced to sign two blank sheets of paper, promising to release her after that. Investigators also demanded that Irina Danilovich states on camera that no methods of pressure were used against her during her detention. When she agreed, on 7 May 2022, she was detained on suspicion of possession of explosives and taken to the Kyiv District Court of Simferopol, where she was arrested for two months.

Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern about the abduction and condemns the judicial prosecution of woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich. It believes that the harassment, judicial prosecution and the restrictive measure being issued against Irina Danilovich is in reprisal for her peaceful and legitimate human rights work. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of the Russian Federation to take all necessary measures to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Irina Danilovich, and guarantee her physical and psychological security and integrity. Front Line Defenders reiterates its demand to Russian authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction of Irina Danilovich, with a view to ensuring her protection, publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards.

13 May 2022
Irina Danilovich located after two weeks and arrested following abduction

On 11 May 2022, 13 days after being abducted, woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich was located in the pre-detention centre in Simferopol. It has been reported that Irina Danilovich has been suspected of “illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or carrying of explosives or explosive devices” and has been arrested for two months.

On 11 May 2022, Irina Danilovich was located in the pre-detention centre in Simferopol, Crimea. Her whereabouts were unknown for almost two weeks after her abduction on 29 April 2022. It is reported that the woman human rights defender is suspected of “illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or carrying of explosives or explosive devices” as per Part 1 Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and that the case against her was initiated by the Investigation Department of the FSB. On 7 May 2022, the measure of restraint – 2 months’ imprisonment – was chosen for Irina Danilovich. Here she was represented by a state appointed lawyer, despite the fact that Irina Danilovich has a signed agreement with another lawyer who couldn't find and access his client since the woman human rights defender had gone missing.

An independent search for the woman human rights defender was launched by her lawyer, family and friends. They checked numerous temporary detention centres in different cities in Crimea, but were unable to find her. On 6 May 2022, 8 days since Irina Danilovich’s abduction, her lawyer managed to gain access to the pre-trial detention centre in Simferopol. However, the officer on duty denied that the woman human rights defender was at this detention centre, and there was no record card for her detention there.

Irina Danilovich’s lawyer wrote an appeal on the circumstances of her disappearance to the Russian Prosecutor’s Office of Crimea and her parents filed a statement to the police. Irina Danilovich’s lawyer additionally filed an application concerning the abduction to the Military Prosecutor of the Military Prosecutor's Office of the Black Sea Fleet and the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

On 5 May 2022, Irina Danilovich’s family sourced and watched a recording from a surveillance camera from a gas station, that shows a woman similar to Irina Danilovich (in the same clothes) talking to four men in civilian clothing near a car. The men then dragged the woman suspected to be the woman human rights defender into a car and then the car is seen driving away. Irina Danilovich’s father filed a new complaint to the police demanding that a criminal case be initiated into the forced abduction of his daughter and demanding police to add the video from the surveillance cameras to the case file.

On 29 April 2022, Irina Danilovich was abducted while driving home from work, in Koktebel, Crimea. On the same day, Irina Danilovich’s house in the village of Vladislavovka was searched by a group from the Special Purpose Mobile Unit (OMON) wearing balaclavas. The woman human rights defender’s father was informed by the officers that his daughter was ordered 10 days of administrative arrest because of "the transfer of unclassified information to a foreign state."

Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern about the abduction and condemns the prosecution of woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities of the Russian Federation to take all necessary measures to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Irina Danilovich and guarantee her physical and psychological security and integrity, as well as that of her husband and relatives. Front Line Defenders reiterates its demand to Russian authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction of Irina Danilovich, with a view to ensuring her protection, publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards.

4 May 2022
Woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich abducted

On 29 April 2022, woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich was reportedly abducted in Koktebel, Crimea. Irina Danilovich went missing when returning home from work. On the same day the woman human rights defenders house was searched by special police units OMON who informed her relatives that there is an administrative arrest order issued against the defender. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Irina Danilovich is a human rights defender and civic journalist who exposes problems of the health care system in Crimea, including in response to the coronavirus pandemic. She also works as a medical personnel and has been advocating for the rights of health workers through their professional trade union and her own project “Crimean medicine without a cover”. The woman human rights defender cooperates with many independent media outlets, including “INжир” and “Crimean Process” that reports on court hearings on politically motivated cases in Crimea.

On 29 April 2022, Irina Danilovich disappeared while travelling home from work in Koktebel. On the same day the woman human rights defender’s house in the village of Vladislavovka was searched by the officers of the Special Purpose Mobile Unit OMON who wore balaclavas. Irina Danilovich’s laptop, her phone, relatives’ phones, several books and documents were seized. While the court order for the search was read out to Irina Danilovich’s father, a copy of the search warrant was not left behind. The defenders father was informed by OMON officers that his daughter was sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest because of "the transfer of unclassified information to a foreign state."

Since 29th April, the woman human rights defenders lawyer and family have been searching for her in temporary detention centres in different cities in Crimea but are unable to located her. On 2 May 2022, Irina Danilovich’s lawyer wrote an appeal on the circumstances of her disappearance to the Russian Prosecuter’s Office of Crimea and her parents filed a statement to the police. Irina Danilovich’s lawyer perceives this as an abduction as it have been 5 days since authorities have not informed the lawyer and family of her whereabouts.

Irina Danilovich has been facing increasing pressure for her human rights work. In December 2021 a series of publications labelling the defender as a “foreign agent” were posted in the telegram channel “Lis i voron”. She was one of few Crimean healthcare workers who spoke out against the issues in the healthcare system in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In early October 2020, after Irina Danilovich and other medical personnel demanded the promised coronavirus payment, she and her colleagues were fired from the hospital in Feodosia.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the reported abduction of woman human rights defender Irina Danilovich. It believes that Danilovich is facing reprisals for her peaceful and legitimate work revealing problems of health care system and protecting, promoting healthcare workers rights in Crimea.