Ten journalists are currently detained in Crimea and another five have short-term administrative arrests, according to the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU). The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate in Ukraine in calling for their immediate release.
A solidarity action was organised on 3 December 2021 by the NUJU during a special online meeting. Almost 300 journalists, public figures, human rights activists, students and lecturers in journalism universities showed support to the imprisoned journalists, as part of the online course for journalists “In Focus – CRIMEA”.
They are citizen journalists, most of them are representatives of the Crimean Tatars, running online streams and providing information from the territory of the Crimean Peninsula. They are currently the only reliable sources of information from the field after the massive obstructions to the work of independent media and journalists. They are charged with “participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation”, “complicity in sabotage” or “preparation for the violent seizure of power by an organised group by prior agreement”.
In a video address, the EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez called on the Russian Federation for the immediate release of Crimean Tatar journalists and Radio Liberty freelancer Vladislav Yesipenko:
“I believe that today more than ever before it’s necessary to promote strong solidarity with the journalists persecuted by the Russian authorities in Crimea. We consider our colleagues as political prisoners. They are in prison just for informing the public. … Crimea has become a zone where international law and the rule of law are no longer respected. The safety of journalists has become a priority issue for the European Federation of Journalists. We will continue to promote policies and strategies that better protect journalists on the ground”.
NUJU President Sergiy Tomilenko added: “Citizen journalists are ordinary people who have joined the media sphere not out of curiosity and fascination with digital gadgets, but out of a desire to fight injustice. It is important that professional journalists recognise themselves as colleagues and support citizen journalists. Every word of support of journalists and their families is important. The moment of release is approaching.”
Here is the full list of imprisoned citizen journalists:
- Amet Suleymanov
- Marlen Asanov
- Osman Arifmemetov
- Remzi Bekirov
- Ruslan Suleymanov
- Rustem Sheikhaliev
- Seyran Saliev
- Server Mustafayev
- Timur Ibragimov
- Asan Akhtemov
The EFJ will send the mentioned cases to the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism.