The presentation took place in the framework of the OSCE conference "Media freedom in volatile environments", which was held in Vienna's Hofburg. The list compiled by the Center for Information on Human Rights in cooperation with the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine included more than 50 people involved in suppression of freedom of speech and violations of journalists' rights in the Crimea.
"We understand that in the occupied Crimea, as well as on its own territory, Russia does not act by any legal means," said Yuliya Kazdobina, an Adviser to the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine. “Unfortunately, in the Ukrainian and international community there are few tools that could really influence the situation with freedom of speech on the peninsula. But, in our opinion, crimes can not go unpunished, regardless of the imperfection of those tools. Crimes should be documented, and criminals should bear personal responsibility.”
Therefore, the Ukrainian NGO Center for Information on Human Rights, in cooperation with the Ministry of Information, collects and systematizes information on violations of journalists' rights, draws up lists of offenders and forwards these lists to the Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine, which opens criminal proceedings on the cases described, Kazdobina stressed.
“Violators of journalists' rights, enemies of freedom of speech in the occupied Crimea should know that not a single one of their actions goes unnoticed. Sooner or later they will have to answer.”
The Editor-in-chief of the BlackseaNews news agency Andrei Klimenko told that he had left Crimea shortly after the so-called referendum. The criminal case for allegedly calling for the violation of Russia's territorial integrity against him was initiated after he made a report on the violation of human rights in the Crimea in the American organization The Atlantic Council. Klimenko was added to the official Russian list of terrorists and extremists.
Editor-in-chief of the BlackseaNews claims that this list is regularly replenished, because his name keeps lowering in the list. After criminal proceedings were initiated against him, his colleague Tatyana Guchakova, who at that time had not yet left the Crimea, was searched. After that, Tatyana was forced to move to the mainland Ukraine as well.
Andrei Klimenko agrees with the opinion that Russia is turning the Crimea into a military base, and there can not be freedom of speech on the military base.
The Editor-in-chief of the news agency "Crimean News" Gayana Yuksel described how the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar media were ousted at the beginning of the occupation. Regarding the Crimean Tatar mass media, it was particularly harsh, because it was the Crimean Tatars who massively protested against the illegal annexation of the Crimea.
“In August 2014, I with Ismet Yuksel, my husband, who is the Coordinator General of the Crimean News, temporarily left for Turkey, of which he is a citizen. On August 10, when we returned back, in the town of Armyansk, the FSB Border Service officers said that Ismet had no right to enter the territory of the Crimea and the Russian Federation for five years. Then we realized that we would not be allowed to work in the Crimea.
We received threats and demands to cease operations on the peninsula. The agency's employees were summoned to the FSB for questioning. On April 22, 2015, I was summoned to the Center for Combating Extremism, where I was interrogated and a protocol was drafted regarding the publications of 2006. In this way they showed that the FSB considers it possible to use the laws in hindsight. In 2015, the activities of the agency QHA was suspended in the territory of Crimea, because the occupation authorities did not grant us a work permit. We moved the agency to Kyiv," Gayana Yuksel said.
Correspondent of the Crimean Reality radio, Secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine Yelena Yurchenko noted that the first thing Russia did after capturing the Crimean peninsula in 2014 was the closure of Ukrainian TV channels and radio stations in Crimea.
“This step showed how the success of the occupation depended on Russian propaganda and false news about Ukraine and the world. After that, conditions were created on the peninsula in which the operation of independent media became impossible. Individual journalists and entire editorial offices were squeezed out of the Crimea. Some of them lost their property, for example, the TV channel "Chernomorskaya", all the equipment of the channel was stolen by the occupation authorities. In total, 11 media outlets were forced to leave the Crimea, including the only Crimean Tatar channel in the world ATR.”
The moderator of the event, journalist Yuri Lukanov, representing the Center for Information on Human Rights, stressed that not so long ago new faces appeared among those Russia pursues for freedom of speech. These are the employees of the Sevastopol analytical center "Nomos" Dmitry Shtyblikov and Aleksei Bessarabov. But if earlier the occupation authorities accused journalists of calling for violation of Russia's territorial integrity, now they are accused of plotting sabotage.
The Human Rights Information Center has already submitted a report on the occupants’ systemic suppressing the freedom of speech in the Crimea, namely, the Crimean Tatar media.
Earlier QHA reported that an international conference "Media Freedom in Volatile Environments" was held under the auspices of the OSCE in Vienna on June 19-20.