An informational and analytical report on the persecution of journalists and bloggers for the entire period of the occupation of Crimea was presented in Kyiv.The report acocrding to information of “ZMINA” Center for Human Rights and the Crimean human rights group on the situation with freedom of speech in Crimea from the beginning of the actual occupation of Crimea – from the end of February 2014 to September 2019.
Over the six years of the occupation of Crimea, the authors of the report collected more than 300 facts of the persecution of journalists and bloggers on the peninsula by representatives of the occupation authorities.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Crimea, a process of curtailing freedom of speech has begun on the peninsula. Russian legislation used to counter this issue, criminal prosecution for calls for separatism, administrative prosecution of journalists, arbitrary detentions, physical attacks, threats, liquidation of independent media, blocking of alternative sources of information.
Researcher at the Crimean human rights group Irina Sedova, claims that the largest number of violations occurred in March 2014 – during the armed occupation.
“During this period, journalists from around the world worked in Crimea. From February 26 to March 22, 2014, more than 100 cases of violation of the rights of journalists and bloggers were recorded, Sedova said.
Journalists and bloggers who did not agree with the occupation became victims of criminal and administrative prosecution. Four people were prosecuted for publication, alleging that Crimea belonged to Ukraine. In total, at least 10 criminal cases with signs of politically motivated criminal prosecution for freedom of speech are known. Among them are Crimean Tatar citizen journalists imprisoned for their activities in covering politically motivated trials of Muslims.
Moreover, occupation authorities opened 13 administrative cases to punish those who disagree for expressing views. These are administrative arrests from 3 to 10 days and fines in the amount of 500 to 15,000 rubles. at the time of publication of the report, at least 47 cases of arbitrary detention were known, Sedova added.
Journalist Taras Ibrahimov said that over almost six years of monitoring, human rights defenders have recorded more than 80 cases of a complete ban on photo and video shooting and at least 8 cases of denial of access to public information.
Crimean human rights group claims that independent journalism almost destroyed in peninsula during the first three years of the occupation of Crimea by Russia. After that, the persecution of activists intensified, who disseminated pro-Ukrainian and critical materials on social networks. Pressure has also increased on streamers and other participants in the “Crimean Solidarity” public initiative, which covers politically motivated or religious affairs and publishes photos and videos on the Internet.
According to investigative journalist Tatyana Rikhtun, human rights activists have systematically recorded illegal blocking of Ukrainian online media and FM radio stations in Crimea over the past few years.
Recall, office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reported suspicion to two Russian intelligence officers in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea for inciting a citizen of Ukraine to high treason.