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Crimean journalist Mykola Semena says he is not guilty

21.03.2017, 11:23

Crimean journalist Mykola Semena has gone on trial on separatism-related charges in the Russian-controlled territory. Semena, an RFE/RL contributor, is being prosecuted for an article he wrote criticizing Moscow's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and expressing support for a blockade of the territory initiated by Ukrainian activists, Radio Liberty reports.

The charges stem from a 2015 article he wrote for RFE/RL's Krym.Realii (Crimea Realities) website that Moscow-installed authorities in Crimea allege called for the violation of Russia's territorial integrity.

"We do not admit guilt," Semena told journalists outside the court before the trial, referring to himself and his lawyers.

"My article does not include calls for the violation of Russia's territorial integrity," he said. "Crimea's status is in dispute."

He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

At the hearing on March 20, defense lawyer Aleksandr Popkov called for the trial to be held in a larger courtroom in order to let more journalists cover it and provide more space for the participants. He said that there was not enough room for he and the other defense lawyer to organize their papers and no table at all for Semena.

But the judge, Nadezhda Shkolnaya, had already promised that a larger space would be found and said it would take some time. She adjourned the trial until April 3.

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