Crimea: Beginning of court proceedings against journalists - No more media freedom
Attempts to silence the last critical voices (Press Release)
On Friday – on occasion of the beginning of the court proceedings against the journalist Mykola Semena in Simferopol, Crimea – the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticized the attempts to do away with the freedom of the media on the peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Semena might be facing up to five years in prison, based on charges of “endangering the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation”, which refers to a single critical sentence he wrote about the annexation. “First, the radio and TV stations in Crimea were shut down, then the editorial offices were closed and individual media were put under pressure – now, independent journalists and bloggers have been suffering from persecution for some time,” criticized Sarah Reinke, the STP’s expert on Eastern Europe, in Berlin. Semena had worked for Radio Liberty.
“Almost three years after the illegal annexation of Crimea, the Russian intelligence service continues to put pressure on anyone who dares to express even a hint of criticism about the annexation,” Reinke stated. “Quite a large number of individuals have already been sent to prison during the past years, ruining their lives and shattering their families. In the case of Semena, Russia continues to ignore international protest. Thus, the responsible persons in Moscow should be confronted with even more vehement and insistent criticism.”
Semena was arrested in April 2016 – and later released under the condition that he should not leave Crimea. On August 23, his lawyer had applied to the Russian secret service to allow Semena to travel to the Ukrainian mainland for urgent medical treatment. This was rejected. Following the hearing on Friday, the main proceedings were scheduled for February 28, 2017.
Header Photo: Sasha Makysmenko via Flickr