Overview of the situation of freedom of speech in Crimea: May 2015

The Crimean Human Rights Field Mission and the Human Rights Information Centre introduce the overview of the situation of freedom of speech in Crimea as of May 2015.

1. Illegal detention

1) On 18 May, in Simferopol, during the synchronous recording with one of the Crimean Tatar activists, the employees of the For Human Rights newspaper were detained by police. According to the journalists, the formal reason for the detention was the lack of accreditation to carry out the video shooting, but later the police was not able to explain what kind of accreditation was at stake. Media workers were taken to the Railway Police Department in Simferopol "for identity verification." At the department, they were asked to explain the format of their cooperation with the newspaper, as well as undergo fingerprinting. After 3.5 hours, the journalists were released without charge and without the proper paperwork.

2) On 21 May, on the highway Simferopol-Armenian, the traffic police and the police stopped a car of the Inter TV channel. After checking the documents, law enforcement officers conducted the inspection of the vehicle and asked to proceed to the police department "for identity verification." Police officers ignored the provided identity documents. At the department, the journalists were obliged to undergo fingerprinting, despite their declaration of reluctance to do it and the wrongfulness of such requirements. After 4 hours, the journalists were released with the proper paperwork.

2. Destruction of information

On 26 May, in Yalta, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) conducted the inspection of the vehicle of residents of Kherson region. A local blogger, who witnessed the incident, filmed what was happening. Upon completion of the inspection, a FSB officer demanded the blogger to go with him to the office, where they asked for the camera to use the video recordings as evidence. After 40 minutes, the camera was returned, but all files were spoiled.

3. Specificities of media coverage of judicial bodies' activity

1) The judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea dismissed a petition of the ATP channel camera crew to conduct video recordings during the hearing on the appeal to elect a preventative measure for the ATP employee Eskender Nebiyev. According to the journalists, the judge justified his refusal on the grounds that the video production equipment cluttered a room, and the hearing itself was not of interest to the community.

2) On 14 May, the ATP cameraperson was not allowed inside the court building, where it was a hearing on the extension of preventive measures for Ahtem Chiygoz and a verdict against the Euromaidan activist Oleksandr Kostenko. It is noteworthy that the employees of the Russian television channels (NTV, Russia 1) got into the court building freely.

4. Other restrictions

1) On 17 May, in Simferopol, during the events devoted to the anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people, the police allowed to the secure perimeter only journalists mentioned in the list drawn up in advance.

2) On 18 May, in the village of Siren, at laying the capsule in place of the proposed construction of the memorial to the victims of deportation, the ATP camera crew have not missed on the first line of the cordon under the pretext of the lack of accreditation. The law enforcement officer verbally expressed threat to the crew that if they attempt to start video recording, he will take their camera away.