Billboard saying "Russian spring... What next" / Photo from UNIAN

After occupying Crimea, Russia has destroyed independent journalism, both professional and civic, on the peninsula. Nine Crimea-based citizen journalists are now being unlawfully held in Russian prisons.

That's according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine which issued a statement on Journalist Day, annually marked in Ukraine on June 6.

"Since the first days of the occupation, Russia has launched a campaign of pressure and repression against free professional journalism in Crimea. Today, independent journalism on the peninsula has been completely destroyed as such," the statement reads.

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In these conditions, the phenomenon of civic journalism emerged, where ordinary people with an active civic position took over the functions of the media, filling the vacuum of independent and impartial coverage of the situation on the occupied peninsula.

Read alsoZelensky invites journalists for informal BBQ picnic on professional holiday (Photo)"For their civic stance and journalistic work, activists are persecuted and thrown behind bars," the ministry's press service said.

Currently, nine civic journalists are being illegally held in Russian prisons, and another one is under house arrest. These are Server Mustafayev, Timur Ibragimov, Marlen Asanov, Seyran Saliev, Remzi Bekirov, Ruslan Suleimanov, Osman Arifmetov, Rustem Sheikhaliev, and Amet Suleimanov.

On March 10, Russian security forces in Simferopol detained Vladyslav Yesipenko, a journalist with RFE/RL's KrymRealii project.

In an infographic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that during the occupation period in Crimea, all 12 independent Crimean Tatar media outlets were forced out of the peninsula. Only 232 media outlets of nearly 3,000 underwent the so-called "re-registration" by occupation authorities.