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RFE/RL Contributor In Crimea Accused Of Calls For Separatism

Crimean-based journalist Mykola Semena

Officials in Russia-annexed Crimea have charged Mykola Semena, a contributor to a news site about Crimea run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), with calling for separatism.

Semena's lawyer Emil Kuberdinov told RFE/RL on April 29 that Crimea's Moscow-backed Prosecutor-General's Office made the charge against the journalist on April 28.

Kuberdinov added that Semena refused to answer investigators' questions, citing his rights under Russian law not to testify against himself.

The Moscow-backed Prosecutor-General's Office said on April 19 that Semena was being investigated over alleged "calls for undermining Russian territorial integrity via mass media."

Police then detained Semena for questioning and subsequently released him.

However, he was ordered not to leave Crimea while investigations are underway.

The United States, the EU, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and international media-freedom organizations have expressed concerns over Semena's case and condemned a clampdown on independent media on the annexed peninsula.

After Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, the Russian parliament passed a law making it a criminal offense to question Russia's territorial integrity.