Human rights defenders named freedom of expression violators in the occupied Crimea

Дата: 03 March 2017
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At least 10 people have organized large-scale curtailing of freedom of speech and expression in the Crimea. And more than 50 people are perpetrators of this crime, who directly persecuted and intimidated journalists in the occupied peninsula.

As reported by reporter of the Human Rights Information Centre citing the list of “Freedom of expression stranglers” in the Crimea, which was published on March 3, 2017.

“According to international organizations, which monitor the freedom of expression situation, Crimea has turned into one of the worst places in the world for journalists to work in the three years of occupation. For example, Freedom House gave the Crimea 94 points out of possible 100, with 100 being the absolute absence of any freedom of expression. Situation with journalists’ rights in the Crimea is much worse than in Russia or in Belarus”, – said Tetyana Pechonchyk, chair of the board of the Human Rights Information Centre.

Not a single crime against “undesirable” journalists has been investigated in the Crimea in three years and perpetrators have not been punished. This is because the so-called law enforcement agencies are often involved in the persecution of the mass media outlets representatives and fabrication of cases.

Human Rights Information Centre and Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine analyzed facts and identified the organizers and perpetrators of systematic attack on freedom of speech and expression.

Into account were taken cases of criminal prosecution of the Crimean journalists, illegal detentions, arrests, searches, physical violence, seizure, damage to equipment, captures or calls to seizure of publications and their equipment. Experts acknowledged denials of registration, re-registrations and closure of media outlets, illegal changes to radio frequencies, blocking publications on the Internet, threats and intimidation against media representatives etc.

More than 60 people are in the list of names involved in the persecution of journalists in Crimea. Those are Russian and Crimean officials, employees of the occupying power and law enforcement agencies, in particular, members of the “Crimean self-defense”, who attacked media representatives. Heads of press centers, who created “black lists” of journalists and public figures involved in the persecution of journalists are also in the list.

Human rights defenders have compiled a list of names based on testimonies of the injured journalists, photo, video, media reports and official documents.

According to the Human Rights Information Centre, there are 10 the most responsible for the suppression of freedom of speech and expression in the Crimea. Those are Sergey Abisov, Minister of Internal Affairs for the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea, Alexander Zharov, Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Vladimir Konstantinov, Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea, Mikhail Nazarov, Head of the Russian Investigative Committee’s directorate for Crimea, Victor Pelagin, Head of the regional FSB department in Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya, Deputy of the State Duma of Russia and a former Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea, Dmitry Polonsky, Minister for Home Policy Information and Communication of Crimea, Sergey Turchanenko, Head of the Simferopol militia “Crimean self-defense”, head of the “Crimean Republican Headquarter’s of the People’s Militia – People’s Guard of the Republic of Crimea”, Mikhail Sheremet, former Vice-Prime Minister of Crimea and a “Deputy” of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

“In addition, more than 50 people are involved in the individual violations and attacks, they are performers, cogs in the system of suppression of any dissent in the Crimea”, – said Tetyana Pechonchyk.

According to her, this list will be constantly updated with new names and facts, since human rights defenders continue to gather evidence.

“We are sending a clear signal that they will have to answer for each crime”, – she said.

Yulia Kazdobina, Advisor to the Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine, stated that Ministry of Information Policy and human rights organizations will initiate criminal cases on the “mainland” Ukraine and introduction of new personal sanctions against those who strangle the freedom of speech in the Crimea. Sanctions could involve a travel ban, assets freeze etc.

According to Olga Skrypnyk, a coordinator of the Crimean Human Rights Group, the new lists of persons, who are involved in politically motivated persecution of Ukrainian in the Crimea and Russia, are being prepared.

“Sanctions list regarding journalists is just the beginning. New lists will follow and will include people who illegally deprived the freedom from Oleg Sentsov, Olexandr Kolchenko, Volodymyr Balukh, Ahtem Chiygoz and many other Ukrainian and Crimean Tatars, who became “Kremlin’s prisoners””, – she said.

Human rights defender added that Crimean Human Rights Group has prepared a list of judges, who are involved in the politically motivated persecution of the Crimean people. Currently it consists of 37 judges among which there are citizens of Ukraine and Russia, who have ruled in violation of the fundamental human rights and sent Ukrainian citizens to SIZO (pre-trial detention centre) or prisons.

As a reminder, earlier human rights defender Tetyana Pechonchyk reported that 461 cases of freedom of speech violations occurred on the peninsula in three years of the annexation. Human Rights Information Centre has recorded 37 cases of violation of freedom of speech and expression in the Russian-occupied Crimea in the second half of 2016.

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