Person of the Week: Mykola Semena

posted 25 Apr 2016, 09:27 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 Apr 2016, 09:50 ]
On 19 April 2016 prosecutors in Crimea opened a criminal case against journalist Mykola Semena who is an outside reporter for the Ukrainian service of Radio Svoboda. According to reports, the journalist's apartment in Simferopol was searched and his equipment seized. Mykola Semena was reported to have been detained and released after several hours of interrogation. He is said to have been told not to leave the peninsula while he is under investigation. The charges concern incitement of separatism and concern a publication on the Krym.Realii website. The Moscow Times reports that the Prosecutor General of Crimea, Natalya Poklonskaya, said the case was opened following a publication on the Krym.Realii news website devoted to the blockade of Crimea by Ukrainian activists. She said such materials were considered to be justification of terrorism in Crimea since, she said, they effectively call for the 'violation of Russia's territorial integrity.' Krym.Realii is a website that positions itself as providing 'news without censorship' established by the Ukrainian service of Radio Svoboda (Radio Liberty) in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine.

Mykola Semena, named by the Krym.Realii website as the journalist in question, is also a former reporter for the Russian newspaper Izvestia and the Ukrainian newspaper Den. If convicted on the charges, he faces up to five years in prison. After criminal proceedings against the journalist had been opened there occured a number of raids at houses of other journalists who publish on Krym.Realii. Prosecutor General Natalya Poklonskaya said the prosecution authorities intend to permanently block the Krym. Realii website. The Moscow Times quoted her as saying: 'This is a harmful service. Their publications provide justification for acts of sabotage and extremism, and incite ethnic hatred.' 

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

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

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović expressed concern about the intimidation of journalist Nikolai Semena in Crimea, Ukraine. She said: 'This recent detention only shows the urgent need to stop the arbitrary practice of silencing journalists in Crimea.' The OSCE reported that Mijatović also noted that similar intimidating actions took place on the same day against a number of other residents of Crimea, including photographer Lieniara Abibulaeva and Ruslana Lyumanova.

NB The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on

Photo of Mykola Semena: RFE/RL

'Journalist Facing Separatism Charges in Russian-Annexed Crimea,' The Moscow Times, 19 April 2016
'Free expression and freedom of the media remains under threat in Crimea, Ukraine, OSCE Representative says,' OSCE, 19 April 2016
'Journalist In Crimea Investigated By Russia-Backed Authorities,' RFE/RL, 20 April 2016
'Russian security forces raid homes of Crimean journalists,' Committee to Protect Journalists, 19 April 2016