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Russian authorities equate Crimean journalists, activists with "extremism and terrorism"

Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) meets with journalists after submerging into the waters of the Black Sea inside a research bathyscaphe as part of an expedition in Sevastopol, Crimea, 18 August 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) meets with journalists after submerging into the waters of the Black Sea inside a research bathyscaphe as part of an expedition in Sevastopol, Crimea, 18 August 2015

REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 13 July 2016.

In response to Russian authorities adding 22 journalists, activists and others in Crimea to Russia's list of "extremist and terrorists," Freedom House issued the following statement:

"Equating political prisoners, civil rights activists, and journalists in Crimea with terrorism and extremism demonstrates Russia's disregard for human and democratic rights in Crimea following its annexation of the region," said Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House. "The insinuation that citizens exercising their constitutional rights are 'extremists' or 'terrorists' gives authorities an excuse to harass and prosecute them. Russia should immediately remove Mykola Semena, Anna Andrievska, Gennadiy Afanasev, Oleh Sentsov, and Oleksiy Chirniy from the list and pledge to protect their safety on territory it controls."

Background:

On July 12, 2016, Russian authorities published an updated list of "terrorists and extremists" which included the names of 22 journalists, political prisoners, activists, and human rights defenders from Crimea. Among those added to the list are Alexandr Kolchenko, Oleh Sentsov, Oleksiy Chirniy, and Gennadiy Afanasev; Afanasev was recently released from detention in Russia. Semena and Anna Andrievska, journalists who actively cover human rights in Crimea for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, were also added to the list.

Crimea is rated Not Free in "Freedom in the World 2016" and Not Free in "Freedom of the Press 2016".

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