Journalist faces charges in Russian-occupied Crimea

AP , Tuesday 19 Apr 2016

Security services are pressing charges against a Crimean journalist for allegedly undermining Russia's territorial integrity, which could put him in prison for five years, prosecutors in Russian-occupied Crimea said on Tuesday.

Shortly after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, the parliament passed a law making it a criminal offense to question Russia's territorial integrity — in this case, opposing the occupation.

The prosecutor general's office said in a statement that the Federal Security Service is pressing charges against a journalist for reports in which he "called for the isolation of the peninsula." This could be the first criminal case for denouncing the occupation.

Prosecutors announced later on Tuesday that a local court has issued an order barring Nikolay Semena, who works for a local website of Radio Free Europe, from leaving town.

Homes of Semena and other journalists in Simferopol, the regional capital, were searched on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Independent media have been virtually banned in Crimea since the annexation and the few reporters who work for independent media outlets use pseudonyms to hide their identities.

Crimea's prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya told the Tass news agency that her office is compiling materials to petition top Russian prosecutors to block the access to Krym.Realii, a Radio Free Europe website that Semena works for.

"This is a saboteur of an outlet, its materials contain justification of sabotage, extremism and endless slander of government bodies in Crimea," Poklonskaya was quoted as saying.

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