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Journalist in Russia-annexed Crimea sentenced for ‘separatism’

September 22, 2017

A journalist working in Russia-annexed Crimea for a US-backed radio station was handed a two-and-a-half-year suspended jail term Friday for “encouraging separatism,” prosecutors said.

Nikolai Semena was arrested in April 2016 by the Russian security forces, who searched his home and those of other journalists.

He was accused over a piece in which he had called for a “civilian blockade” of the Ukrainian peninsula, which Russia seized in March 2014 and incorporated into its territory.

Semena contributed to Krym.Realii, an Internet-streamed channel launched by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty after the Russian annexation.

Semena, who was the only journalist to be charged, told AFP he was “relieved” that he had received a suspended rather than a custodial sentence.

“But I have also been banned from carrying out my profession for three years,” he said.

“The judge has given a signal to all journalists — not a single opinion that runs counter to the position of the authorities should be published in this country,” he said, adding that he would appeal the decision.

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