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Media Freedom Coalition calls on Russia to release journalist Yesypenko

26.08.2021, 19:23
Screenshot from the video of Radio Liberty
Screenshot from the video of Radio Liberty

The Media Freedom Coaltion calls on Russia to immediately release freelance journalist, contributor for Radio Liberty Vladyslav Yesypenko, as Radio Liberty reported.

"We call on the Russian Federation to immediately release Vladyslav Yesypenko and all journalists who have been unjustly detained and to allow journalists to practice their profession without fear of persecution, arbitrary imprisonment, violence and enforced disappearance," the coalition said.

Coalition members also expressed deep concern over the deteriorating media freedom condition in the occupied Crimea and the continued pressure, violence and prosecution of journalists by the Russian Federation.

"We are concerned about reports of mistreatment and abuse while Mr Yesypenko has been detained. Also, nine citizen journalists - the Crimean Tatars (Server Mustafayev, Timur Ibrahimov, Marlen Asanov, Seyran Saliyev, Remzi Bekirov, Ruslan Suleymanov, Osman Arifmemetov, Rustem Sheikhaliyev, Amet Suleymanov) have been held in pre-trial detention centers in Russia and the occupied Crimea, ” the statement read.

The Media Freedom Coalition is alarmed about Russia's actions aimed at "suppressing the independent media on the peninsula through its continued harassment and intimidation, which actually drove the independent media underground or forced them to leave the peninsula altogether."

"Together with the international community, we will continue to cover the actions of the Russian Federation to restrict media freedom in Crimea. We also draw attention to the constant and systematic restrictions on freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information that Crimean people face. This is one of the issues that the Crimean platform aims to address,  ”the statement added.

As IMI reported, on July 15, in the Russian-controlled Simferopol District Court, a Russian prosecutor issued an indictment in the case of journalist for Radio Liberty Vladyslav Yesypenko. He is charged under Articles 223-1 (illegal manufacture of explosives, processing or repair of explosive devices) and 222.1 (illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of weapons, their main parts, ammunition) of the Criminal Code of Russia. 

Sanctions under both articles include up to 12 years in prison. The maximum term of imprisonment under a combination of two articles is 18 years of imprisonment.

On July 6, the Simferopol Occupation Court extended Vladyslav Yesypenko's arrest until January 18. Yesypenko fainted that day as he was being transported from the court building to a pre-trial detention center.

On 5 May, a new charge was brought against Vladyslav Yesypenko. His wife Kateryna Yesypenko said Vladyslav was accused additionally of an illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, or carrying of weapons and ammunition (Art. 222 of the Criminal Code).

As IMI reported, on April 13, Vladyslav Yesypenko's lawyer Oleksiy Ladin said that his client was threatened with murder by a FSB officer if he withheld his previous testimony he made under torture.

As IMI reported, on April 6, Vladyslav Yesypenko said that FSB investigators had tortured him.

As IMI reported, on March 10, Russian FSB officers detained Vladislav Yesypenko in the occupied Crimea. Yesypenko took part in the action dedicated to Taras Shevchenko's anniversary, which took place in Simferopol on March 9. 

Vladyslav Yesypenko is accused of gathering information "in the interests of Ukraine's special services," including for the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Russian FSB's Public Relations Center reported on March 16. According to the FSB, Yesipenko "carried out photo and video recording of the area, livelihoods and places of mass stay of people in the Crimea."

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