Day of the Imprisoned Writer: Iryna Danylovych
Occupation: citizen journalist, human rights defender
Situation: imprisoned in the Russian Federation
Born on 6 May 1979, Iryna Danylovych is a human rights defender, citizen journalist and medical professional, who exposed problems in the Crimean health care system. She collaborated with independent media outlets reporting on politically motivated trials in occupied Crimea, and has previously been harassed on account of her journalistic reporting and trade union activities.
Danylovych was abducted by unidentified assailants and forcibly disappeared in Koktebel, occupied Crimea, on 29 April 2022. That same day, Russian security forces searched her house and seized her phone and equipment. Danylovych was eventually located by her attorney on 11 May 2022 in a pre-trial detention centre in Simferopol. She reported being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention and forced to sign a confession without having read it. She was subsequently charged with ‘illegal purchase, transfer, storage and transportation of explosive substances or explosive devices’ under Article 222.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and listed as a ‘foreign agent’ by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
On 28 December 2022, the Feodosia City Court sentenced Danylovych to seven years in prison and fined her 50,000 Rubles (approximately 670 Euros). On 29 June 2023, the Supreme Court of occupied Crimea upheld the verdict, reducing her sentence by one month. She was unlawfully transferred to the Russian Federation on 24 July 2023 and is currently being held in Penal Colony No. 7 in Zelenokumsk, in Stavropol region, Southern Russia.
In March 2023, Danylovych went on a hunger strike in protest against her persisting lack of adequate medical care in prison. According to her family, she has fully lost hearing in her left ear.
Scores of Ukrainian citizen journalists and human rights activists are currently being kept behind bars in occupied Crimea and in the Russian Federation on politically motivated grounds, including Server Mustafayev, who featured in PEN International’s 2022 Day of the Imprisoned Writer Campaign. PEN International has repeatedly called on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally end its devastating war against Ukraine, including through a Resolution adopted at PEN International’s 88th annual Congress in September 2022, a statement marking a year of war crimes and resolve in Ukraine, and a Declaration of PEN International’s Writers for Peace Committee issued in May 2023.
PEN International believes that Iryna Danylovych is being targeted for her journalistic and human rights work and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. This is what you can do:
Please reach out to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic contacts, calling on them to:
- Raise Danylovych’s case in international fora, demanding her immediate and unconditional release and that, pending her release, she is urgently provided with adequate health care;
- Publicly call for the release of all Ukrainian journalists and human rights activists held in the Russian Federation and occupied Crimea solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression;
- Continue to urge the Russian Federation to end the war in Ukraine immediately and unconditionally.
Raise awareness about Iryna Danylovych’s case on social media, using the hashtags #IrynaDanylovych #FreeDanylovych #ImprisonedWriter, tagging @pen_int with a message like:
Stand for justice. Take action for #IrynaDanylovych, human rights defender and journalist from occupied Crimea unfairly detained in the Russian Federation solely for her journalistic and human rights work. Join us in demanding her immediate an unconditional release. #FreeDanylovych #ImprisonedWriter
Please write a solidarity message to Iryna Danylovych here.
We also encourage you to highlight the case of Iryna Danylovych, the state of freedom of expression in occupied Crimea and the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine by:
- Publishing articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press
- Organising public events, press conferences and demonstrations
- Promoting publications and activities by PEN Ukraine. For more information, please see PEN Ukraine’s website
- Visiting PEN International’s handles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for retweets, likes, comments and sharing our posts for wider outreach
Please keep us informed of your activities. Messages can be sent to Aurélia Dondo, Head of Europe and Central Asia Region at PEN International: Aurelia.email@example.com, and Sabrina Tucci, PEN International Communications and Campaigns Manager, Sabrina.Tucci@pen-international.org