Trials of political prisoners in Crimea should be covered by foreign journalists – Crimean journalist

Дата: 26 September 2016
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If the local media are afraid to cover the trials of political prisoners, the foreign journalists should do that. This was stated by Crimean journalist Olena Lysenko at an event within the OSCE Forum.

The journalist noted that attending the court hearings in Crimea would be a very important support from the international community and foreign media if this cannot be done by Ukrainian journalists from mainland Ukraine or Ukrainian journalists in Crimea.

The Human Rights Information Centre correspondent reports this from Warsaw.

Olena Lysenko herself was forced to leave the peninsula due to the pressure exerted on her because of professional activities. The Crimean journalist worked in the occupied Crimea for almost two years and left for the mainland Ukraine only in early 2016.

The woman also told about how the independent journalism in the peninsula was attacked, as well as about the events, which she had witnessed. “When they began to seize the military facilities in Crimea, no one could guarantee the safety of journalists, so I could not send younger colleagues there. I had to take the camera myself. When I was standing near the Kerch Strait ferry line, some people came to me and asked me to go away. I asked them, as I got used to ask in Ukraine, what was the reason for that, but they did not speak with me for a long time and sent 8-10 men in the form of the Cossacks to me, who quickly oust me from the ferry line,” Olena said.

As a reminder, Crimean journalist Mykola Semena is under investigation in Crimea now. The journalist’s lawyer, Alexander Popkov says that he defends the Ukrainian journalist also because the arbitrary practice towards Ukrainians in Crimea is actively used against the Russian citizens in the Russian Federation.

During one of the court hearings in the case of Semena I saw a girl who was writing something down in a notebook. She was not a relative. I asked if she was a journalist, she was confused and tried to end the conversation. Some journalists and bloggers in Crimea are afraid to say that they are journalists. Apart from Mykola Semena, houses of seven more journalists were searched. Three of them had left for the mainland, while others stopped working as journalists. All these facts scare,” Alexander Popkov said.

The lawyer added that the situation of fear in Crimea became normal.

The OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Forum HDIM2016 is ongoing in Warsaw, Poland.

At one of the plenary meetings, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović recalled that safety of journalists is currently the principal topic. Journalists keep dying because of their professional activities. In particular, Dunja Mijatovic reminded about the deaths of Ukrainian journalists Georgiy Gongadze and Pavel Sheremet and other uninvestigated crimes against journalists.

The expert also paid attention to the issue of propaganda. According to her, “the propaganda, which has become our daily reality, destroys the profession of journalist. The impact of propaganda in Bosnia and Herzegovina led to horrific consequences. Everything that happens in Ukraine shows that we have not learned from our mistakes. The threat of propaganda becomes a pretext, used by the state.”


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