Press freedom in Crimea has steadily deteriorated under Russia’s occupation since March 2014.
On April 1, Russian authorities shut down all but one Crimean Tatar-language media outlet. Likewise, agents of Russia’s security service have carried out a string of raids, interrogations and detentions against independent Crimean journalists:
- On March 13, Russian security service agents raided the homes of the parents of Natalya Kokorina and Anna Andriyevskaya, both of whom worked for the Center for Investigative Journalism in Crimea. The center is an independent journalism group that was forced to relocate to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, after Russia’s occupation.
- The same day, agents detained Kokorina and questioned her for more than six hours before releasing her.
- Russian authorities also filed criminal charges that day against Andriyevskaya in connection with articles she wrote purportedly calling for an end to Russia’s occupation.
- On April 8, agents questioned Anna Shaidurova, a former editor and journalist also with the Center for Investigative Journalism, for three hours over the criminal case brought against Andriyevskaya.
- On April 9, Russian agents detained Tatyana Guchakova, co-founder and chief editor of the portal BlackSeaNews, after searching her apartment in Yalta for nearly 10 hours and seizing all computer technology in her home. The agents also detained Guchakova’s former boss, Andriy Klymenko.
Russia’s repressive acts against Crimea’s independent media have been widely condemned. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Dunja Mijatović, a representative on freedom of the media, called Kokorina’s detention “a reminder of the ongoing practice of the de facto authorities in Crimea to intimidate and persecute independent media representatives for their work.”
Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland noted that under Russia’s occupation, human rights abuses in Crimea “are the norm, not the exception, for many at-risk groups” including journalists.
Summing up the state of journalism in Crimea today, Daniel Baer, the U.S. representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said that Russian authorities’ arrests and harassment “have left the peninsula with virtually no Ukrainian or independent media outlets.”
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