Crimean journalist Semena could not personally receive the European Prize for Freedom of Speech

Дата: 28 November 2016
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In the frameworks of the eighth annual Assembly of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels on November 28, Crimean journalist Mykola Semena received the award named after Pavlo Sheremet. 

Crimean journalist could not attend the award presentation because he was forbidden to leave the Crimean peninsula, Krym.Realii informs. 

In the commentary for the Human Rights Information Center, Mykola Semena said that his defense requested the authorities to give him a permission to visit Brussels to receive an award, but the FSB investigator rejected this request. 

In this regard, Volodymyr Prytula, editor of the Krym.Realii and Radio Liberty’s chief editor Nenad Pejić received the award on behalf of Mykola Semena. 

As Krzysztof Bobinski, co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership told Krem.Realii, the decision to give an award to Mykola Semena was approved by the Steering Committee of the Forum “in recognition of the fact that he was not afraid to risk his freedom and security, defending free speech in Crimea.” 

Krym.Realii’s editor-in-chief Volodymyr Prytula read a request from Mykola Semena. 

“I am happy, despite the lack of opportunity to exercise the right to freedom of movement, to receive the award named after Pavlo Sheremet. My colleague, one of the best journalists of the former Soviet Union, Pavel Sheremet, was killed six months ago, often spoke and wrote the bitter truth that many people did not like” – Semena wrote in his appeal. 

In his appeal, Semena told about Russia’s repressive acts in the annexed Crimea. 

“Russian authorities abolished civil liberties and created repressive legislation used to suppress civil liberties… The prohibition of Mejlis, searches, threats, pressure on relatives, wiretapping, mail interception, computer hacking, surveillance – is the current practice of the Russian FSB towards Crimean independent journalists and bloggers” – Krym.Realii editor-in-chief read Semena’s appeal. 

At the end of his appeal, Semena expressed gratitude for the award. 

“I think this award is an important moral support for all Crimean journalists who continue to faithfully and efficiently perform their professional duties and inform Crimeans and the world about what really happens in annexed Crimea.”

 The Pavlo Sheremet Prize was presented for the first time. According to the co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership Vladislav Velichko, the award is named after the deceased in July 2016 journalist Pavlo Sheremet “in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of human rights and freedom of speech.” 

In spring, massive searches took place in Crimea, including in the independent journalists who are suspected of collaboration with Krym.Realii. A criminal case was opened with respect to the Radio Liberty’s author Mykola Semena on suspicion of threatening the territorial integrity of Russia. Russian investigation forbade him to leave the peninsula. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry expressed concern over the persecution of Ukrainian citizens, including Semena, of annexed Crimea and urged to stop pressure on him. 

On August 23, Semena’s defense asked FSB to release him for medical treatment. Before this, International and European Federation of Journalists and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media requested a permission to leave Crimea for treatment. 

Department of FSB in Crimea refused to give him a permission.

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