Statement on prosecution of citizen journalist Iryna Danylovych in occupied Crimea

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A politically motivated trial of citizen journalist Iryna Danylovych has begun in occupied Crimea. She is one of 14 Ukrainian journalists who have been imprisoned in occupied Crimea or transferred to prisons in the Russian Federation.

Iryna Danylovych, who cooperated with many independent mass media, particularly INzhyr media project and Crimean Process initiative, has been imprisoned for political reasons in the temporarily occupied Crimea since April 2022.

Before her imprisonment, Iryna lived in the village of Vladyslavivka near Feodosia and worked as a nurse in Koktebel. She worked as a citizen journalist and published her articles anonymously, covered the topics of the rights of medical workers, and also cooperated with the outlets that covered political trials in occupied Crimea.

On April 29, 2022, four Russian law enforcement officers wearing civilian clothes abducted Iryna on the way from Koktebel to Feodosia, the abduction was captured on camera. Meanwhile, a search was conducted in her house, all equipment was seized. There was no contact with Iryna for 13 days. As it turned out, Danylovych was held in the FSB building for eight days, where she was forced to take a lie detector test, threatened, and given food only once a day.

Only on the 13th day after her disappearance, Iryna’s family was informed that she was in a pre-trial detention center in Simferopol. The citizen journalist was charged with “illegal possession of explosives”, she faces up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Russian rubles.

In July 2022, Danylovych reported being beaten by FSB convoy and psychological pressure exerted on her by Russian security forces.

On August 29, the trial in the case of citizen journalist Iryna Danylovych began at the city “court” of Feodosia. On October 24, the court began examining the evidence and considering the merits.

It became obvious from the first court hearings that the “court” deliberately obstructs the establishment of the truth in the journalist’s case. For example, at the hearing on November 7, the court refused to let lawyers question all 15 witnesses that were supposed to be questioned (including the witnesses involved in the abduction of the journalist).

Moreover, during the hearings on October 24 and November 7, the representative of the prosecution manipulated the evidence base, reading out the fragments of criminal case files (not the entire document, but only the necessary part), did not react to the crime related to the refusal of a witness to testify in court, and supported revealing the evidence from case files without the circumstances for such actions.

This approach demonstrates that the real motive for the prosecution of Iryna Danylovych could have been her comments to journalists about the objective state of the healthcare system in the occupied territory and her civic activities to protect the rights of healthcare workers in the region, coverage of politically motivated trials, and not explosives allegedly found by Russian security forces in her purse.

Given the landmark start of the trial in the case against the Crimean citizen journalist, we call on:

  1. a) human rights organizations of Ukraine and other democracies:
  • to closely follow the trial of Iryna Danylovych
  • to disseminate as widely as possible own conclusions and assessments regarding this trial
  1. b) independent media, editors, and journalists:
  • to demonstrate professional solidarity and launch an information campaign, covering in detail the peculiarities of the trial of Iryna Danylovych
  1. c) professional unions of journalists:
  • to promote the dissemination of information about the peculiarities of the trial of Iryna Danylovych among the international community
  • to conduct own events to call on union members to demonstrate professional solidarity and highlight the peculiarities of the trial of Iryna Danylovych
  1. d) government agencies of Ukraine:
  • to make every effort to release Iryna Danylovych, as well as other Crimean political prisoners, including human rights defenders and journalists
  • to investigate the unlawful detention and prosecution of Iryna Danylovych and bring the perpetrators to justice
  1. e) governments of world democracies:
  • to condemn jointly and strongly politically motivated prosecution of Iryna Danylovych and other journalists in occupied Crimea
  • to impose personal sanctions on persons involved in the prosecution of Iryna Danylovych

Human Rights Centre ZMINA

Crimean Process

Institute of Mass Information

Human Rights Platform

National Union of Journalists of Ukraine

Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners of the Kremlin

Crimean Human Rights Group

Regional Center for Human Rights

Human Rights Center “Action”