An RFE/RL contributing correspondent is set to go on trial in Russia-annexed Crimea on separatism-related charges for an article he wrote criticizing Moscow's seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula and expressing support for a blockade of the territory initiated by Ukrainian activists.
The trial of Mykola Semena, slated to open on March 20 in Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, comes amid mounting international pressure on Russia to drop the case against the journalist, who faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Natalya Poklonskaya, the former Russia-installed prosecutor-general in Crimea who filed the charges against Semena and who now serves in the Russian parliament, has accused RFE/RL's Krym.Realii of providing "justification for acts of sabotage and extremism" and inciting "ethnic hatred."
The charges against Semena, 66, stem from a 2015 article he wrote for RFE/RL's Krym.Realtii (Crimea Realities) website that Moscow-installed authorities in Crimea allege called for "the violation of the territorial integrity of Russia."
The column was part of a wide-ranging discussion on the website about options for Crimea and was a response to an earlier column that opposed a blockade.
Semena is barred from leaving Crimea and must request permission to travel outside Simferopol.