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Crimean Journalist Semena Moves To Mainland Ukraine 'Indefinitely'


Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena left for Kyiv on February 18.
Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena left for Kyiv on February 18.

RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena -- a journalist who has been convicted of separatism in Ukraine's Russia-occupied Crimea region before a court there expunged his criminal record -- has arrived in Kyiv following his release from detention in Simferopol.

Semena, 69, is seeking medical care in Kyiv for a heart condition and damaged spine.

In 2017, Semena was convicted of separatism and handed a 2 1/2-year suspended sentence together with a a ban from "public activity" for three years.

On January 14, a court in Crimea's capital, Simferopol, ruled to prematurely terminate Semena's sentence period and expunge his criminal record.

Last week, Semena received the court documents confirming the January 14 ruling.

The journalist said he was planning to stay in mainland Ukraine "indefinitely," adding: “As long as part of Ukraine is occupied, I cannot consider it my home. My family thinks the same.”

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said the news of Semena’s "safety and security is long-awaited and joyous."

"His arrest, almost four years ago, for publishing criticism of Russia's annexation of Crimea, was always wrong and violated every basic human right and freedom," Fly added. "I’m glad Mykola is free and able to resume his writing career for the benefit of the people of Ukraine."

Semena, who has contributed to RFE/RL's Krym.Realii (Crimea Realities) reporting project, was arrested by Crimea's Russia-imposed authorities in 2016 and charged with acting against the "territorial integrity of the Russian Federation."

Semena says the accusation against him was politically motivated.

The United States, the European Union, and international media watchdogs have all condemned the trial and verdict.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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