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OSCE Representative condemns continued intimidation of free voices in Crimea


VIENNA, Austria – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović again expressed her concern this week about the intimidation of free voices in Crimea following the detention and interrogation of Yelizaveta Bohutskaya, a blogger and contributor to various media outlets, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Crimean desk, in Simferopol.

“This detention is yet another example of the ongoing practice and attempts by the de-facto authorities in Crimea to silence critical voices. It is unacceptable and it poses a clear threat to free media in Crimea,” Mijatović said.

On 8 September, law enforcement representatives searched Bohutskaya’s apartment and seized equipment and material relating to her work. The blogger was detained for about six hours for interrogation at the Counter-Extremism Centre. Reportedly, the police actions against Bohutskaya were based on a criminal investigation of the brawl which took place in May near the administrative boundary line between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, when a group of people went to greet the leader of Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev. According to Bohutskaya, police also questioned her about her reporting strongly criticizing the Russian authorities.

Mijatović also noted the continued pressure on the Crimean Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent online media outlet, whose staff recently was summoned to the Federal Security Service and Prosecutor’s Office in Yalta and Simferopol respectively. Earlier individuals in military uniform raided the media outlet’s office (www.osce.org/fom/115983) and later, their property was seized (www.osce.org/fom/122209).

“I reiterate my call to the de-facto authorities in Crimea to refrain from any activities hindering members of the media in doing their work,” Mijatović said.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more atwww.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.