The list of people curbing freedom of speech in Crimea

At least 10 persons are masterminds behind a massive attack on the freedom of speech and expression of opinion in Crimea. 50 more individuals are the actual perpetrators of this crime – directly engaged in persecutions and threats to journalists on the occupied peninsula.

The relevant list of those who “helped gag the freedom of speech” in Crimea was published by the Human Rights Information Centre and Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine.

«International organizations that deal with the freedom of speech monitoring note that in three years under occupation, Crimea turned into one of the worst locations for reporters to work in, worldwide. The situation with reporter rights in Crimea is much worse than in Russia per se or, for instance, in Belarus” – so noted Chairperson of the Board for the Human Rights Information Centre, Tetiana Pechonchyk.

According to her, none of the crimes against those journalists who are “uncomfortable” for the occupation authorities has been investigated in three years, and perpetrators were not brought to justice. It is because the same so-called law enforcement agencies were oftentimes part of repressions against journalists and fabricated cases against them.

«The evil shall not remain anonymous and criminals – unpunished, - noted Ms. Pechonchyk. – Thus we analyzed the facts and spotted the names of those who instigated and who carried out a systematic onslaught against the freedom of speech and expression of opinion in the occupied peninsula».

Cases scrutinized included criminal prosecution of Crimean journalists, illegal detentions, arrests and searches, cases of physical violence, expropriation and destruction of equipment, hijacks or calls to hijack editorial offices and their property, refusal to register, re-register media outlets and their closure, illegal re-allocation of radio frequencies, blockages of news-resources on the internet, threats and intimidation of mass-media representatives, etc.

In order to elicit concrete names, the Human Rights Information Centre gathered and analyzed information from journalists who fell victim to these practices, studied official documents and public statements by the de-facto authorities, scrutinized protocols of searches, procedural documents, photo- and video-footage, as well as media reports.

The name-list of those who partook in repressions against journalists in Crimea has over 60 entries. They include names of Russian and Crimean officials, officers in law enforcement and specialized institutions, members of the “Crimean Self-Defence” who attacked media representatives, heads of the press-centres who compiled black-lists of journalists as well as other actors who engaged in journalist persecutions and instigation of a propaganda war against Ukraine.

According to the Human Rights Information Centre, 10 persons bear the biggest brunt of responsibility for cracking down on the freedom of speech and expression of opinion in Crimea. These include Sergey Abisov, “Minister of internal affairs of Russia for the Republic of Crimea”;Sergey Aksyonov, Chair of the “Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea”; Aleksandr Zharov, Head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor); Vladimir Konstantinov, Chair of the “State Council of the Republic of Crimea”; Mikhail Nazarov, Chief of the Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the “Republic of Crimea”; Viktor Palagin, Chief of the “FSB Department for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol”;Natalia Poklonskaya, “Member of Parliament” at the State Duma of the Russian Federation, ex-“prosecutor” of Crimea; Dmitriy Polonskiy, “Minister of Internal Policy, Information and Telecommunications” of Crimea; Sergey Turchanenko, former Chief of the Simferopol regiment of “Crimean Self-Defence”, head of budget-sponsored institution “Crimean Republican Headquarters of People’s Self-Defence—People’s Militia of the Republic of Crimea”; Mikhail Sheremet, Former “Deputy Prime-Minister” of the Crimean government, “Member of Parliament” at the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

“Over 50 more persons are part of stand-alone cases of violations and assaults, serving as instruments, cogs in the machine that muffles any signs of alternative thinking in Crimea”, - summarized Tetiana Pechonchyk. According to her, the list would be constantly updated with new names and facts since rights-defenders continue collection of evidence. “We are sending a clear signal that no crime will go unpunished” - she noted.

Adviser to the Minister of Information Policy, Yuliya Kazdobina, noted that the Ministry in partnership with representatives of rights-defence organizations were going to launch criminal proceedings in mainland Ukraine, and would work for new personalized sanctions against those who strangled the freedom of speech in Crimea. Measures could include travel bans, freezing of assets, etc.

Coordinator of the Crimea Human Rights Group, Olga Skrypnyk, noted that new lists of persons who partook in politically-motivated persecutions of Ukrainians in Crimea and on the territory of the Russian Federation were in the making: “The sanction-list for [those who dealt with] journalists is only the beginning. This will be followed by new lists – of those who illegally took freedom from Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Volodymyr Balukh, Akhtem Chiygoz and many other Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars who became the “prisoners of the Kremlin””. The rights-defender noted that the Crimean Human Rights Group had already drawn up a list of judges who were involved in politically-motivated persecutions of Crimeans. Currently the list has 37 judges (citizens of both Ukraine and Russia) who ruled with violation of fundamental human rights, and who sent Ukrainian citizens to temporary detention centres or prisons.

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The list is being prepared by the Human Rights Information Centre. More information can be provided upon request. For more information, please contact Tetiana Pechonchyk: +38(067)445-95-43, e-mail: tp@humanrights.org.ua

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