Crimea’s Moscow-backed authorities have repeatedly targeted the Krym.Realii website for its criticism of the peninsula’s annexation by Russia in March 2014, RFE/RL reports.
On April 19, Natalya Poklonskaya, occupational prosecutor-general in Crimea, asked the Russian prosecutors to block access to the website, accusing Krym.Realii of publishing materials that contain “justification of sabotage, extremism, and endless slander of government bodies in Crimea.”
Her statement came shortly after Crimean prosecutors opened a criminal case into the activities of a local journalist, who has written for RFE/RL, on charges of undermining Russia’s territorial integrity. Mykola Semena could face five years in prison if found guilty.
After Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine, the Russian parliament passed a law making it a criminal offense to question Russia’s territorial integrity, which also means opposing the occupation.
The United States and international media-freedom organizations have condemned the clampdown in Crimea.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about increasing restrictions on independent media and civil society in Crimea,” said Jonathan Lalley, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, in remarks published on April 20.
Lalley said individuals and organizations with dissenting views “are being silenced or driven out,” and condemned Crimean authorities for denying international observers access to the peninsula.
The OSCE also voiced concerns over the probe into Semena.