The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine protested in connection with the trial in Crimea over the freelancer “Radio Liberty” (project “Crimea.Realii”) Vladislav Esipenko and called on international partners to increase pressure on Russia.
“We regard the trial of Vladislav Esipenko as a continuation of Russia’s repressions against those who disagree with the temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula, systematic suppression of freedom of speech and obstruction of the activities of independent media. Russia must immediately release Vladislav Esipenko and all Ukrainian citizens illegally detained by it in Crimea and on the territory of the Russian Federation. We call on international partners to increase political and diplomatic pressure on Russia, in particular sanctions, ”- said in the message of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova named the indictment against Vladislav Esipenko “an example of intimidation of independent journalists, suppression of freedom of thought in the temporarily occupied Crimea and another evidence of the policy of persecution and repression of Ukrainian citizens by the occupying country.”
Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro, during which he discussed the case of Vladislav Esipenko.
Lawyer Dmitry Dinze, defending Esipenko, believes that the trial will take place in an expedited manner. At the moment, five court sessions have been scheduled. On July 15, at the Simferopol District Court, the Russian prosecutor announced the indictment. The day before, it was reported that Vladislav Esipenko lost consciousness when he was transported from the courthouse to the pre-trial detention center.
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty President Jamie Fly called the charge a “mockery of justice” transfers Radio Liberty. The US State Department expressed concern about the situation with journalist Vladislav Esipenko.
Initially, Vladislav Esipenko was charged with Art. 223.1. Of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal manufacture of explosives, illegal manufacture, alteration or repair of explosive devices). The punishment under this article provides for from 8 to 12 years in prison.
The wife of the arrested freelancer, Ekaterina Esipenko, reported that Vladislav was also charged under Art. 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of weapons, their main parts, ammunition). The sanction of this article provides for a punishment of 5 to 12 years in prison.
The press wrote in March that the FSB officers tortured Esipenko with electric current. The accused himself and his wife Yekaterina Esipenko spoke about physical pressure from the side of the investigation. In May, she stated that her husband was tortured to confess.
Vladislav Esipenko covered social and environmental issues, and also filmed surveys of Crimeans. He was detained by officers of the Russian FSB in Crimea on March 10, 2021. According to the FSB, the journalist “took photographs and videos of the area, life support facilities and places of mass stay of people on the territory of Crimea.”
The department refers to the testimony of Esipenko, in which he allegedly said that he was collecting information “in the interests of the special services of Ukraine”, and also “kept an improvised explosive device in the car to ensure his own safety.”
Independent lawyers were not allowed to see Esipenko for 27 days. At the same time, an interview with him was shown by the Russian state TV channel Krym 24: in a video posted on the channel’s website, Vladislav Esipenko confirmed that he had filmed on the peninsula for the Krym.Realii project, and also said that he allegedly dubbed the filmed video with Ukrainian special services.
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