Vienna, 23 September 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed distress after renowned journalist from Crimea Mykola Semena was sentenced yesterday, 22 September, by a court in the Russia-controlled region.
In April 2016, the journalist’s house was raided and his equipment was seized. Afterwards he was briefly detained and interrogated in connection to criminal charges of allegedly calling for separatism. The charges were based on an article Semena, a contributor for KrymRealii (Crimea.Realities) – RFE/RL’s Crimea service, published earlier under a pseudonym. In the article, he allegedly “criticized Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea”. The journalist denied any wrongdoing. <br><br>
The Court convicted Semena on separatism charges, and sentenced him to a two and a half year-long suspended sentence, as well as a ban on any future journalistic activities.
“We harshly condemn the decision of the court in Crimea, and we call on them to immediately revoke this sentence” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said today. “It is unacceptable for any institution or authority to prohibit an individual from doing their job – especially if that job is journalism. Mykola Semena must be freed of his sentence and allowed to express his opinions and thoughts. This type of censorship and oppression against media workers will only lead to a more dire and dangerous situation for Crimea” Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.