27 Human rights organizations expressed their outrage day before the trial of journalist Semena
Twenty seven human rights organizations, united in the Civic Solidarity Platform, expressed their support for the Crimean journalist Mykola Semena, who faces imprisonment for five years for daring to express his opinion.
Organizations signed a joint statement the day before the trial of the journalist. Trial is scheduled on February 17.
“The Russian government is preparing new act of political retaliation against those who dare to criticize Russian actions on the Crimean peninsula, which was seized by Russia in 2014 and violated the international law”, – said in a statement, instigated by the Human Rights Information Centre.
Authors of the statement remind that trial of Crimean journalist Mykola Semena will begin on February 17. He will be tried for courage to publicly express his opinion, which is contrary to the Kremlin’s policy. His publications on Radio Liberty on the situation in Crimea entailed anger of the Russian authorities. He was charged with calls for the violation of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation through the means of mass media. He is facing imprisonment for a term of five years.
“In the first days after the Russian military without any insignia seized governmental buildings in Crimea in February-March 2014, Russian authorities have taken measures to suppress freedom of speech on the peninsula. Ukrainian TV channels on cable networks were replaced for Russian, opportunities to gather were limited for all journalists, except Russian journalists. Once Russian control has been fully established on the peninsula, Russian authorities issued orders to block Ukrainian mass media outlets on the internet and to shut down the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR”, – noted authors of the statement.
However, according to the human rights defenders, the most pressing problem regarding freedom of speech in the Crimea is the persecution of independent journalists. It is primarily based on Article 280 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which was purposefully amended after the annexation of Crimea. These changes have increased the responsibility for public calls for violation of the territorial integrity of Russia through means of mass media outlets. Criminal cases against four other journalists in Crimea have been opened on the basis of these amendments. These journalists, as well as Mykola Semena, are facing a sentence of imprisonment for a term of five years. Such accusations directly contradict international norms regarding human rights to freedom of expression and are clearly politically motivated.
Civic Solidarity Platform is outraged by the cruelty of measures taken by the Russian government against those who peacefully express opposition to its politics in the Crimea. Organizations-members of the CSP are expressing their support and solidarity with Mykola Semena as well as urge intergovernmental organizations and international community to strongly and clearly oppose the repressive actions of the Russian Federation in Crimea.
The statement about the repressions of the Russian government against journalists in Crimea was signed by:
Human Rights Information Centre (Ukraine)
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consulations (Georgia)
Human Rights Movement: Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan
Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania)
Association UMDPL (Ukraine)
Helsinki Committee of Armenia
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Russia)
Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
People in Need (Czech Republic)
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor (Armenia)
Republican Institute (Ukraine)
Public Association “Dignity” (Kazakhstan)
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
DRA – German-Russia Exchange (Germany)
International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium)
Macedonian Helsinki Committee
Barys Zvoskau Belarusian Human Rights House (Belarus / Lithuania)
Moscow Helsinki Group (Russia)
Helsinki Association for Human Rights (Armenia)
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (Kosovo)
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee