Radio Svoboda imprisons Radio Liberty journalist Vladislav Yesipenko for 6 years

Анастасія Діденко
18:27, 16 February
Radio Svoboda imprisons Radio Liberty journalist Vladislav Yesipenko for 6 years
Image source: Ґрати

Ukrainian journalist Vladislav Yesypenko was sentenced in the occupied Crimea. The Radio Svoboda freelancer was arrested after a flower-laying rally at a monument to Shevchenko in Simferopol on March 10, 2021, and charged with illegal possession and transportation of an explosive device.

On February 16, Yesipenko was sentenced to six years in a penal colony and fined 110,000 rubles.

The journalist was detained on his way back from Simferopol to Alushta after the Shevchenko rally. Russian special services said they had allegedly caught a "Ukrainian spy". Yesipenko managed to be released that he signed a confession against himself after torture and threats of physical violence.

According to Yesipenko, the key "evidence" in the case, namely a grenade, was planted in his car by FSS officers.

The "trial" of Yesipenko began in July 2021. In the final version of the prosecutor's opinion, Esipenko was accused of illegal production of a grenade and its transportation in a car.

Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova condemned the decision in Simferopol, calling the allegations far-fetched and politically substantiated, and the criminal case itself fabricated.

"The sentence on Vladislav Yesipenko is an example of intimidation of independent journalists, suppression of freedom of thought in the temporarily occupied Crimea and another evidence of the policy of persecution and repression of Ukrainian citizens by the occupying country", - was informed in the statement.

She drew the attention of the international community to the systematic violation by the aggressor country of the rights of Ukrainian citizens on politically motivated charges.

Source: Kateryna Yesipenko

Journalist and human rights activist Maria Tomak said that the Office of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is also preparing its own statement on the illegal sentence against Vladislav Yesipenko.

As the Office of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and as the office of the Crimean Platform, we are also preparing our own statement on this issue. I would like to remind you that immediately after his detention, as Vladislav Yesipenko himself stated in court, he was subjected to horrific torture, torture, which according to the "good tradition" of the occupying power of Crimea was not considered, so it is very important to talk about what is happening.

We all understand that this is a political issue, but I can say with absolute certainty, given my experience of public activity, that publicity is what works. Not as an instant effect, but as something that works in the long run. Most politically motivated cases are not a sprint, but a marathon. It is important how intensively and for a long time we manage to keep attention on these cases, because the moment comes when the window of opportunity for the release of these people opens, "human rights activist Maria Tomak told Suspilne Crimea.

The journalist added that the things that Ukraine is implementing at the national level are important. She reminded of the law "On social and legal protection of persons deprived of personal liberty as a result of armed aggression against Ukraine and members of their families" recently adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

"It seems to me that these are real signals from the state that it cares about its citizens", - Maria Tomak said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested against Yesypenko's sentence.

"The court's decision must be overturned, and Vladislav Yesipenko, as well as all illegally detained Russian citizens of Ukraine, must be released immediately", - the Foreign Ministry informed in a statement.

The agency called on the international community to condemn Russia's actions, demand that it stop violating international law in the occupied territories of Ukraine, and continue active cooperation, including within the Crimean Platform, to protect rights and freedoms in Crimea.

Vladislav Yesipenko's lawyer Dmytro Dinze told how he and his client reacted to the court's decision of 6 years in prison.

"Vladislav, as far as I understand, calmly accepts imprisonment. The defense perceives this sentence negatively.

The verdict is based on numerous violations that took place during operational and investigative activities and operational and investigative activities. All investigative actions were carried out with violations. We pointed this out, but the court did not take this into account. If you look at similar sentences in Russia, people are given suspended sentences. Especially if the person has not been convicted before and has many positive characteristics", - the lawyer said.

Dmytro Dinze noted that now they need to go through an appellate instance and after that they will be able to go to the European Court of Human Rights.

"The only thing the appellate court can do is change the verdict, which will help Esipenko leave for Ukraine", - he said.

The lawyer also shared Vladislav Yesipenko's well-being and stressed that the journalist's psychological health was completely undermined.

"There was repeated pressure from investigators and operatives. He was very scared because they went to his pre-trial detention center as if they were at home. They threatened to give him 11 years. It seems to me that the operatives asked him to give him the full program", - Dmytro Dinze summed up.

Source: Kateryna Yesipenko

Journalist and human rights activist Anton Naumlyuk noted that he knew in detail the materials of Vladislav Yesypenko's case, who appeared in court and what evidence was presented against him.

"After all this process, it is safe to say that there was no evidence in court that Esipenko really had a grenade in his car, that he was carrying it with him or got it from somewhere. Nobody presented the evidence", - Naumlyuk stressed.

Human rights activists call on Russian authorities to end persecution of Crimean people for disagreement with occupation, international organizations and governments of democracies - to condemn Russia's actions in political persecution of journalists and activists in occupied Crimea and increase pressure on Russian government, President of Ukraine, Verkhovna Rada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs ARC and the city of Sevastopol - to ensure effective investigation of illegal imprisonment and persecution of Vladislav Yesipenko.

"Human rights activists are convinced that the real reason for the persecution of Vladislav Yesipenko is his journalistic work as a freelancer, a freelancer of Radio Svoboda, the Crimea.Reality project, which covers human rights violations by the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea. We, the representatives of human rights organizations, condemn the politically motivated imprisonment of Vladislav Yesipenko in the temporarily occupied Crimea in connection with his civic position and journalistic work", - was informed in the statement.

It was signed by the Ukrainian branch of the International PEN Club, the Crimean Human Rights Group, the ZMINA Human Rights Center, the Center for Civil Liberties, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and other human rights organizations.

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