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Lawyers For Crimean Journalist Charged With Separatism Start Studying Case

Mykola Semena
Mykola Semena

Lawyers for Mykola Semena, a Crimean journalist and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), say their client has received the final written charges from the Russian-imposed authorities in Crimea.

Semena is charged with spreading "calls for undermining Russian territorial integrity via mass media."

Lawyers Emil Kuberdinov and Andrei Sabinin wrote on Facebook that they have begun to study the nearly six volumes of case materials after their client received the final official charges on December 7.

In Russia's judicial system, delivery of the final charges is often followed within weeks by a trial.

He could be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted.

Semena, who contributes to RFE/RL’s Crimea Realities website, was initially charged in May by the Russian-imposed authorities after he wrote an article expressing the view that Crimea should be returned to Ukraine.

Russia seized control of the peninsula in March 2014, after sending in troops and staging a referendum considered illegitimate by Ukraine, the United States, and at least 100 nations.

Semena is currently under a court order barring him from leaving Crimea and must seek prior permission to travel outside the regional capital, Simferopol.

The United States, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and international media-freedom organizations have expressed concern over Semena's case, which activists say is part of a Russian clampdown on independent media and dissent in Crimea.

After Moscow seized control of Crimea, the Russian parliament passed a law making it a criminal offense to question Russia's territorial integrity within what the government considers its borders.

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

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