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Journalist In Crimea Investigated By Russia-Backed Authorities


Crimea's Prosecutor-General Natalya Poklonskaya has called for the closure of RFE/RL's Crimea website.
Crimea's Prosecutor-General Natalya Poklonskaya has called for the closure of RFE/RL's Crimea website.

The office for Crimea's de facto prosecutor-general has said that journalist Mykola Semena has been ordered not to leave the peninsula while he is being investigated by the Russia-backed authorities.

In a statement on April 19, the Moscow-backed Prosecutor-General's Office said Semena, who was an outside contributor to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, is being investigated for alleged "calls for undermining the Russian territorial integrity via mass media."

"Police conducted forced searches at the homes of seven people across Crimea, including some RFE/RL correspondents," said RFE/RL Editor in Chief Nenad Pejic in a statement on April 19. "One of those journalists is now facing up to five years in prison on criminal charges related to his work."

Mykola Semena
Mykola Semena

The Prosecutor-General's Office said earlier on April 19 that police searched the homes of several local journalists and confiscated computers and data "proving that materials of an extremist character had been under preparation."

Crimea's Prosecutor-General Natalya Poklonskaya has called for the closure of RFE/RL's Crimea website.

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, which also means opposing the occupation.

"RFE/RL's Crimea website is one of the last remaining sources of independent news in Russian-occupied Crimea," Pejic added. "RFE/RL will not stop providing professional coverage to its audiences in need. We will not stop defending our colleagues."

The Committee to Protect Journalists decried Russia's targeting of journalists covering Crimea.

"We call on Russian security forces to stop harassing journalists in Crimea for their reporting and expressed opinions," said Nina Ognianova, the committee's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. "Russia has a record of equating criticism with extremism, and of using its broad laws to intimidate and silence the press."

With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and AP
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