April 10, in Kyiv a round table "The history of the development of the Crimean media and freedom of speech in the occupied Crimea" was held. During the event members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Crimean journalists on the mainland of Ukraine and their colleagues working under the occupation discussed the situation with freedom of speech on the annexed Ukrainian peninsula.
QHA collected statements of the participants of the event about the situation in the Crimea and how the occupation of the peninsula is covered in Ukraine.
Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov
“There are no independent media in the Crimea, because everything depends on the regime. We can spend a lot of time comparing the conditions in which journalists work in the occupied territories and in free Ukraine. 135 years ago, when Ismail Gasprinsky published his newspaper "Terciman", he brought ideals to people. Today our main task is to build the same society where these milestones – the good and love – would live and be capable of defending themselves.
Head of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Serhiy Tomilenko
“There is no freedom of speech in the Crimea. We record more and more new facts of violence against journalists and regretfully say that there is virtually no independent voice on the peninsula. Not only influential media are persecuted, but also individual journalists who have their own audience. Our reports recorded the facts of the persecution of such major media as the ATR television channel, the QHA news agency, and the "Krym.Realii" project.”
Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people and former political prisoner Ilmi Umerov
“I have indirect relation to journalism, but in the 90th year we had a period when the Crimean Tatar national movement was in great need of the media and we established the newspaper "Avdet" ("Returning"), around which the national movement actually existed. We spoke about the problems of the people and their experiences. After 2014, after annexation, all the independent media were eliminated. Only those remained who are subject to the regime.”
Activist of the human rights organization Crimean Solidarity Seitumer Seitumerov
“We all know that in 2014 the Russian authorities were primarily engaged in information isolation of the Crimea. Many media outlets had to close down, because of the Russian tough policy to combat dissent, and all those who do not share the state's policy are being persecuted. In 2015, the flywheel began to get more screwed, but then for the first time in the Crimea those who came for searches and arrests began to shoot and upload it to the Internet. So there were civil journalists who connect Ukraine and Crimea. They understand the danger of the situation and wait every day when the security forces come to them. We need to understand that if Ukraine does not cover events on the peninsula, then this will play into the hands of the occupier.”
Activist of the human rights organization Crimean Solidarity Server Mustafayev
“Here, in the Crimea, we try to defend our right to freedom. All those crumbs of information that you see on the Internet or hear from journalists who came from the Crimea are the truth. Two years ago the situation was absolutely different and the Crimean issue was not covered in this way in Ukraine. We believe that the downpour begins with a drop, and we see that the situation is changing.”
TV journalist working in the Crimea, Shevket Memetov
“In recent years, we have a lot of publicists and bloggers. We want more to be done in this direction, because it is not necessary to be professional journalists. What they are doing now is very important - they do not allow to forget about the Crimea, and it is great that today people speak about the problems of the peninsula on different platforms.”
Deputy Coordinator of the human rights organization "CrimeaSOS" Yevhenia Andreiuk
“The first aggressive attacks in the Crimea began with journalists, because Russia had to eliminate independent voices. The problem of freedom of speech in the Crimea is multifaceted and there are many aspects of it: the closure and blocking of the media, as well as the difficult access of journalists from Ukraine and the world to the peninsula. Repressions against activists and civil journalists are not individual, but mass actions. Russia is waging a hybrid war not only against Ukraine, but also against the entire civilized world.”
Reportedly, a draft resolution was being developed in Kyiv in support of civil journalists in Crimea.