Second edition of Lukanov’s book about curtailing freedom of speech in Crimea published in Germany

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The second edition of journalist Yuriy Lukanov’s documentary book “The Press: how Russia destroyed media freedom in Crimea” translated into English was released by the Ibidem Verlag German publishing house. The author added several chapters to the previous text published by Human Rights Information Centre (now ZMINA) in 2018. The first edition in Ukrainian and English can be downloaded here. 

Book cover 

During the occupation of Crimea in 2014, the author was on the peninsula and experienced firsthand how Russia limits the opportunities for journalists not under its control to receive information. He described his experience in the book, as well as the experience of many other Ukrainian, mainly Crimean, and foreign journalists. 

Crimea for Putin … is a sacred territory which is a matter of life and death for him. Therefore, after Russian aggression expanded, the situation there has become particularly relevant again. I believe that for Western readers as well,” noted Yuriy Lukanov, the author of the book. 

Protesters in Crimea 

He added that after the first edition of the book had been published, the tactics of the occupiers against dissenters became tougher and, therefore, a need arose to add several chapters. “I wrote about repression against such a phenomenon as citizen journalism, also about how the occupiers use Western journalists, about changes in propaganda methods,” Lukanov said. 

The book describes many methods used by the occupiers: from simple restriction of access to information to criminal prosecution, brutal beatings and arrests. The author, together with Crimean journalist Serhiy Mokrushyn and another Crimean, rescued French television cameraman David Geoffrion from the captivity of the so-called Crimean self-defense units. This experience is described in the book. 

A large section is dedicated to Crimean journalism veteran Mykola Semena who received two and a half years of probation for cooperation with RFE/RL’s Crimea. Realities project. A whole team of FSB employees spied on him for a long time. 

Within a week after the occupation started, the occupying power switched off nationwide Ukrainian channels and replaced them with Russian ones. They sought to attract ATR Crimean Tatar channel to their side, but nothing came of it. Therefore, the channel was forced to leave for Kyiv. The book tells its story. 

Book heroine, Olena Yurchenko from Kerch, works during the occupation. Photo from the book 

Having occupied Crimea, the Russians mopped up professional journalism on the peninsula. After that, the phenomenon of citizen journalism was formed there, when ordinary citizens began to cover events and cooperate with mass media outside the peninsula. The occupying power began to throw such people behind bars, planting explosives on journalists, accusing them of terrorism. Lukanov added to the second edition chapters about citizen journalists, in particular about Vladyslav Yesypenko, who cooperated with RFE/RL’s Crimea.Realities project and whom the Russians imprisoned for six years (later the term was reduced to five years). 

The author of the foreword to the book is British citizen of Ukrainian origin, author of several books on the history of Ukraine, in particular on the current war, political scientist Taras Kuzio. The editor of the book is the Head of Human Rights Centre ZMINA Tetiana Pechonchyk. 

The book can be bought online. 

This year, the Defiance Press American publishing house released an English translation of Lukanov’s book of war prose “Reporter Volkovsky” which is also dedicated to journalists in the war. In April, the author had an almost three-week presentation trip to educational institutions in the USA, which was supported by United Help Ukraine American foundation. 

In the early 2000s, Lukanov, together with director Maksym Bernadskyi, shot the documentary “Who are you, Mr. Jackie?” dedicated to Ukrainian dissident journalist Valeriy Marchenko who was killed in prison by the communist authorities. 

Lukanov is also the author and editor of several manuals on the safety of journalists.