Press release March 29, 2021
Crimea: Release Journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko
The journalist’s detention is another example of an ongoing campaign to intimidate independent journalists working in Crimea.
In response to the detention of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) contributor Vladyslav Yesypenko, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The arrest and imprisonment of freelance reporter Vladyslav Yesypenko on dubious ‘espionage’ charges is a further sign that journalists in Crimea continue to face harassment, arrest, and imprisonment for carrying out their work,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Politically motivated prosecutions of activists and journalists are common on the peninsula. However, there are reports that Yesypenko, a Crimean resident, was pressured to waive independent legal counsel. It demonstrates that he, like all residents on the peninsula, does not have the right to a fair trial—a basic human right and the foundation of all democracies.”
Vladyslav Yesypenko, a freelance journalist working for RFE/RL's Ukrainian-language Crimea.Realities outlet, was detained on March 10th by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) after attending a peaceful gathering in Simferopol marking the anniversary of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko’s birth. According to the FSB, which later accused him of espionage, Yesypenko was found with an object “looking like an explosive device” in his car. After his detention, Russian television channel Crimea24 broadcast an interview with Yesypenko that was widely denounced as a forced confession.
Ekaterina Yesypenko, Vladyslav’s wife, hired two independent lawyers, both of whom were denied access to Yesypenko. Authorities said that Yesypenko refused both lawyers, but neither of them received written confirmation from Yesypenko. Both lawyers expressed serious concerns that Yesypenko is under physical and psychological duress to refuse independent counsel. Yesypenko's family also suspects that the journalist was tortured ahead of the Crimea24 interview.
Yesypenko’s arrest is yet another example of a continued campaign of pressure and harassment directed at journalists working in Crimea. To date, nearly 60 journalists working with the Crimea.Realities outlet alone have been forced to stop their work or leave Crimea as a result.
Crimea is rated Not Free in Freedom of the World 2021.
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