The Catastrophic Collapse of Independent Media in Crimea: The Last Two Years and the Road Ahead | Freedom House

The Catastrophic Collapse of Independent Media in Crimea: The Last Two Years and the Road Ahead

Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

The Catastrophic Collapse of Independent Media in Crimea: The Last Two Years and the Road Ahead

Thursday, March 17, 2016
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 
Wine and appetizers will be served

Civic Hall, 156 Fifth Avenue
 Second Floor
New York, NY 10010



In the two years after Russia annexed Crimea, key democratic institutions have suffered dramatically in a crackdown that has affected nearly every facet of Crimean society. Independent media and journalists have especially suffered as their work to report on social, economic, and political developments is perceived as threatening by de facto Crimean and Russian authorities. 

Freedom House, Razom for Ukraine, the VOLYA Institute for Contemporary Law and Society, and Human Rights House Network invite you to join us for a conversation with a group of human rights activists that are documenting the unfolding press freedom crisis in Crimea and supporting the few independent media outlets and journalists that are still able to operate. Michael Schwirtz, a New York-based New York Times journalist who has worked in Russia, Central Asia, and elsewhere in the region for the paper from 2006-2012 will facilitate the discussion and share his insights for media developments in the region.

The conversation will provide an opportunity for visiting activists and the audience to discuss:
The current state of affairs of media and the press in Crimea as well as what can be done to support these institutions
The impact of propaganda on people in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine
Western media coverage of the situation in Crimea, including on the human rights situation
The challenges of working in and reporting on closed societies

Roundtable Participants:

Alim Aliiev, Co-founder of Crimea SOS
Tetiana Pechonchyk, Head of the Board of the Human Rights Information Centre
Olga Skrypnyk, Head of Crimea Human Rights Group and Almenda
Michael Schwirtz, New York Times Journalist

Participant Biographies: 


Alim Aliiev is a co-founder of Crimea SOS, an organization that started as a Facebook-civic group in February 2014 as the occupation of Crimea was under way. Crimea SOS now focuses on the realization and protection of the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and conflict-affected populations in Ukraine through social and humanitarian support, advocacy, and monitoring and documentation on human rights in Crimea. Mr. Aliiev is also a political scientist and media specialist, and has reported extensively on the occupation of Crimea, Crimean culture and social issues, and IDPs. In Lviv, Mr. Aliiev helped found Crimean House in Lviv, Ukraine, an organization aimed at maintaining and advancing Crimean Tatar culture.

Tetiana Pechonchyk is Head of the Board of the Human Rights Information Centre (HRIC), an organization which monitors and documents human rights abuses in Crimea and across the mainland Ukraine. Since March 2014 HRIC in close partnership with Ukrainian, Russian, and other human rights groups and activists had coordinated the work of the Crimean Human Rights Field Mission (CHRFM), the only permanent international monitoring mission from civil society being present in occupied Crimea. Ms. Pechonchyk also specializes in supporting media and journalists working in Crimea. In addition to her human rights work, Ms. Pechonchyk has worked as a journalist for a number of the national media outlets. She has a PhD degree with a thesis devoted to the freedom of speech study in the Ukrainian mass media discourse. 

Olga Skrypnyk is Head of the Crimea Human Rights Group (CHRG) and Almenda, two initiatives focusing on supporting civil society in Crimea and promoting the observance and protection of human rights in Crimea by attracting wide attention to problems of human rights and international humanitarian law on the peninsula. Ms. Skrypnyk also serves as Head of the Public Council under the Ministry of Information Policy in Ukraine and formerly served as Senior Protection Assistant at UNHCR focusing on legal issues and IDPs. Ms. Skrypnyk has served as a senior lecturer on history, legal studies, and pedagogy at Crimean University for the Humanities in Yalta, and has led and been involved in several civic initiatives in Crimea, including the Docudays human rights film festival, human rights education initiatives, and independent media development.

Michael Schwirtz is a reporter for The Times in New York. He joined the Moscow bureau of The Times in 2006, where he worked as a reporter and researcher until May 2012. For the last three years he have been investigating brutality and corruption at New York state prisons and Rikers Island. After studying Russian at the University of Central Florida, he spent a year in St. Petersburg and Kiev, where he had an internship with the United States Embassy.  He returned two years later to earn a master’s degree at the European University at St. Petersburg. Back in the United States, he researched political movements in the former Soviet Union for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, while studying for a master’s degree in international relations at George Washington University.

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