Statement by the Verhovna Rada of Ukraine on illegal depravation of freedom of Ukrainian journalists Roman Sushchenko and Mykola Semena
On September 30, 2016 under vague circumstances the Russian security service (FSB) has detained in Moscow a Ukrainian journalist, special correspondent of the Ukrainian National Information Agency (UKRINFORM) in France Roman Sushchenko, who had arrived in the territory of the Russian Federation with a private visit to meet his close relatives. The Russian authorities groundlessly have accused him of espionage.
A closed court session took place on October 1, 2016, which resulted in a court decision to arrest the Ukrainian journalist for two months. Ukraine has been informed on the detention of the Ukrainian citizen only on October 2, 2016.
Up to this moment (as of the end of the day of October 3) the Russian authorities have not permitted the Ukrainian consular officials to visit the arrested countryman, gravely violating by such inaction of Article 13 of the Consular Convention between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. A lawyer is not also permitted to visit Roman Sushchenko, what constitutes a direct violation of his rights as well as the international legal obligations of the Russian Federation.
Taking into account a striking similarity between the detention of Roman Sushchenko and the similar scenarios of detention by the Russian security services of other citizens of Ukraine, who are recognised by the international community as political prisoners of Kremlin, and a complete farfetched character of this case, the Verhovna Rada of Ukraine expresses its deep concern about illegal detention and further fate of the Ukrainian journalist.
We have to state that Roman Sushchenko is not the only Ukrainian journalist, who faces a fabricated case. In particular there is another citizen of Ukraine, a journalist Mykola Semena, who also faces farfetched accusations under a fabricated case and who is under a court trial today in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Notwithstanding protests of the Ukrainian authorities and the journalist organizations, Mykola Semena is not allowed to leave the occupied Crimea for medical treatment.
This journalist, performing his professional duties and defending his civil position, wrote article “Blockade is a first step to liberate Crimea” posted on the information web-site “Crimea.Realities” - the Radio Freedom project, while he was in the mainland of Ukraine in September 2015.
On April 19, 2016 the Russian security service (FSB) searched the residence of Mykola Semena in the temporarily occupied Crimea and later initiated a criminal investigation accusing him of separatism for his publications as a journalist.
Despite the state of health of Mykola Semena, he was denied entry to the mainland of Ukraine for medical treatment what can be clearly regarded as a torture. In October, 2016 the criminal proceedings against him based on the trumped up charges will continue.
These and other cases concerning citizens of Ukraine, who are illegally held in Russia and in the territory of Ukraine, which is under Russian occupation, are a clear demonstration that the Russian Federation continues to violate human rights on massive scale, by using the methods of forcible seizure in its territory or abduction from the territory of Ukraine of hostages with subsequent initiation of preposterous accusations against them. Herewith, the Russian Federation actively applies psychological pressure and physical torture to the detained Ukrainians.
We firmly believe that in the mentioned cases the persecution of Ukrainian citizens is directly related to their journalist activities.
Through such actions the representatives of the Russian Federation attempt to take hostages persons for whom the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of speech and expression, constitutes
a fundamental value and the core of their work, and try to intimidate journalists. This criminal goal must not be achieved and such actions deserve condemnation.
We urgently call on you to consolidate efforts to release the Ukrainian journalists held by the Russian Federation, which gravely violates human rights, and to facilitate an immediate access of consular officials of Ukraine and a layer to the detained Roman Sushchenko. It is only through the joint actions of Ukraine and the international community that we can stop gross violations of human rights, which, unfortunately, now become a regular practice in the Russian Federation.