Ukrainian citizen sentenced in Crimea. How will Ukraine respond?Yuriy Kulikov
Russian court in the occupied Crimea sentenced a Ukrainian journalist from Simferopol Mykola Semena to 2.5 years in jail with a 3-year probation period and a ban on engaging in public activities. The occupation forces persecuted and punished the Ukrainian man only because he had not flipped sides and continues to consider Crimea Ukrainian territory, like millions of his compatriots.
The multi-month trial of the journalist was grounded on his article published on Crimea.Realities website about the blockade of the Ukrainian peninsula stolen by Putin's Russia. Semena was accused of extremism and an attempt on the territorial integrity of Russia. And who were those who charged him? It was those who three years ago stole Crimea from Ukraine.
The multi-month trial of the journalist was grounded on his article published on Crimea.Realities website about the blockade of the Ukrainian peninsula stolen by Putin's Russia
"On the one hand, I feel relieved, as there is a probation period for my sentence, and on the other – I feel frustration with the Russian justice, since all those arguments of my defense and conclusions by experts, whom we attracted from Moscow and Kazan were, in fact, not taken into account," Semena said, commenting on the politicized verdict.
The indicative punishment by the Kremlin-controlled court pursued an obvious goal - to intimidate all Ukrainian patriots in Crimea and Russia. It once again warned Russian journalists to forget about freedom of speech and recall the need to fluctuate along the "line of the ruling party."
Putin and his punitive forces are afraid of an honest word and principled journalistic position, because they feel the frailty of their regime and the realize the evil which their aggression their peaceful neighbor, Ukraine, has brought as they seized Crimea and unleashed a bloody war in Donbas. To make sure that this reflex to keep quite sticks with Semena, the Simferopol Court confiscated his personal computer. That’s just another proof that any thief always remains a dirty rascal.
A demonstrative prosecution of the Ukrainian citizen in the occupied Crimea attracted public attention to the appalling situation our Ukrainian compatriots in the occupied peninsula and our colleagues in neo-imperial Russia have found themselves in.
Since the occupation started, Putin's regime has been implementing in the seized Crimea a secret but systemic policy of ethnic cleansing, squeezing from the peninsula all dissenting citizens - in the first place, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar civic activists. Honest Crimean journalists became one of the first victims of this Russian repression. The Crimea.Realities website along with other Ukrainian media reports numerous facts of the crimes of "Putin’s eagles", the true followers of the KGB agenda. Media tell us about the way the occupation authorities closed down the Ukrainian newspaper Krymska Svitlytsia and the Crimean Tatars’ Avdet, and about the way the occupation authorities did not grant licenses to the ATR TV channel and the children's TV channel Lialia. The latter, obviously, represented a real danger for the bloody regime…
Since the occupation started, Putin's regime has been implementing in the seized Crimea a secret but systemic policy of ethnic cleansing, squeezing from the peninsula all dissenting citizens - in the first place, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar civic activists
In the process of extrusion of free journalism from Crimea, the entire Russian repressive machine was involved: journalists were threatened, arrested, abducted… They faced psychological and physical terror. The occupation authorities acted extremely harshly: targeted citizens had just few days to pack their belongings before fleeing to mainland Ukraine being threatened otherwise to be thrown behind bars for "encroachment on the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation". At the same time, Russian operatives chose to forget that a few months prior they, themselves, had encroached on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
As a result, over the past three years, the Crimean school of journalism, which was one of the strongest ones in Ukraine, has been destroyed completely.
Of course, we understand that Putin's Russia couldn’t care less about international law, human rights and freedoms and especially Ukrainian journalists and activists. They are ruled by other idols and other qualities are honored, which are demonstrated in all their glory by the so-called prosecutor's offices and judges in Semena’s case, which will undoubtedly become a shameful stain in the history of their country. But let the Russians deal with their own conscience or the lack thereof. I hope that this will happen someday with the inevitable rise of Ukrainian flags over Simferopol, Sevastopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, and other cities and villages of Crimea and the captured part of Donbas.
Today, we are more interested in getting an answer to the question, how Ukraine will respond to this lawlessness regarding our compatriot in Crimea.
And the answer must be clear and unambiguous. All those responsible for the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea and the persecution of Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and those who disagree with the injustice of the Russians must be punished in accordance with the Ukrainian law. We need trials, including in absentia, of all those who in the spring of 2014 stole Crimea from us, who created a system of terror and intolerance, and carried out ethnic cleansing. We could start with a simple thing: depriving all those guilty of high treason of Ukraine’s state awards received earlier.
A few months ago, Ukrainian newspapers were full of reports claiming that several hundred scoundrels from the Supreme Council and other bodies of the Crimean government who were the first ones to commit treason and contributed in 2014 to the unconstitutional seizure of power by the neighboring aggressor state had been summoned to the Ukrainian prosecutor's office. Investigations of these crimes must be accelerated and forwarded to court.
Today, we are more interested in getting an answer to the question, how Ukraine will respond to this lawlessness regarding our compatriot in Crimea
Ukrainian law enforcers must launch systemic and effective investigations of all crimes committed by Putin’s regime in the occupied territory of Crimea against our compatriots. And Ukrainian courts must guarantee that the criminals will be brought to justice. This includes the need to probe the actions of those Russian FSB operatives who fabricated the Semena case and persecuted our compatriot and his family. The “contribution” of Simferopol court’s judges who rendered an illegal decision must also be investigated.
The example of Mykola Semena tells us that, no matter how cruel Putin’s regime is, the Ukrainians in Crimea cannot be intimidated or broken. Putin's cursed days will pass, while Crimea was, is and will be part of Ukraine, until the end of time.