ZMINA called for release of all of the political prisoners of Kremlin during the OSCE session on freedom of expression
An online OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting took place on June 22-23, gathering representatives of governments of OSCE member-states, media and civil society organizations, among them ZMINA.
The session was held under supervision of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Mr. Harlem Désir and was dedicated to freedom of expression, media and information in the OSCE region.
In his address to the participants of the session, Human Right Center ZMINA representative Roman Hromyk told about persecution of independent media and repression of freedom of expression in occupied Crimea, about entry bans for Ukrainian journalists, blocked websites of Ukrainian media in Crimea and communicated the information about 10 citizen journalists among the 94 political prisoners – Ukrainians who have been unlawfully imprisoned in detainment centers in Russian Federation and in Russia-occupied Crimea.
On a separate note Roman Hromyk pointed to the unsafe conditions in which political prisoners are detained in the midst of COVID-10 outbreak, mentioning the numerous refusals to provide COVID-19 testing to Server Mustafayev. We were also able to inform of the tendency of intensifying the repressions against the religious community of Witnesses of Jehovah in Crimea with two representatives of the community receiving 6 years prison sentences.
During the second day of the session, ZMINA drew the attention of the participants of the OSCE meeting to the fact that Russia continues to apply its own legislation in occupied Crimea (this constitutes a gross violation of international law), including the legislation that hinders the exercise of freedom of expression. In particular, we told about the amendments to criminal code signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 1st, 2020, which introduced penalties for disinformation while covering, among other topics, the topic of the pandemic. “Because of the wage definitions in the amendments the occupant administration received an additional space for persecution of independent media and activist in Crimea.” – underlined Roman Hromyk.
ZMINA stressed to the participants of the OSCE meeting to the unacceptability of keeping political prisoners, including citizen journalists, detained, especially in the time of coronavirus pandemic.
In conclusion Roman Hromyk called on OSCE member-states to impose and maintain personal sanctions against individuals responsible for gross violations of rights of journalists and for persecution of independent media in occupied Crimea and to demand immediate release of all political prisoners.