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OSCE sounds alarm on media freedom in Crimea

March 7, 2015

The media freedom situation in Crimea is getting ever worse with a “deeply disturbing” and at times violent crackdown on independent voices a year after Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula, the OSCE said.

“The continuous dismantling of free media in Crimea and the crackdown on independent and critical voices is deeply disturbing and worrying,” said Dunja Mijatovic, media freedom representative at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

“Truth is the first casualty in times of crisis and this certainly applies for Crimea. I call on those responsible to stop media censorship and to ensure journalist’ safety,” Mijatovic said in a statement.

Mijatovic, who visited Crimea in March 2014, said that in the past year since Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territory, all Ukrainian television channels have been blocked and replaced with channels originating in Russia.

At least 13 independent media outlets, freelance journalists and bloggers have been “threatened, assaulted, physically attacked, banned from entry, interrogated and kidnapped” and their equipment confiscated or damaged, Mijatovic said.

The premises of at least six media outlets and media NGOs have been raided, with their equipment seized in some cases. Crimean Tatar media has been under “extensive censorship”, and also subject to raids and detention of staff, she added.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.