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Human rights watchers concerned about searches, detention of RIA Novosti director

Author : Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group released the commentary on the high-profile state treason case
15:12, 21 May 2018

Reuters

As Kyrylo Vyshynsky, the editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti news agency remains in custody, charged with state treason, human rights defenders share their views on this high-profile case. Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group released its own summary of reactions - both in Ukraine and abroad.

'A 50-year-old Vyshynsky has both Ukrainian and Russian citizenship – a situation which is, strictly speaking, not allowed in Ukraine but which is common. He is accused of taking part, on instructions from Moscow, in Russia’s information war against Ukraine. The charges of state treason, under Article 111 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, could carry a sentence of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.  

Vyshynsky was taken to Kherson (the nearest oblast to occupied Crimea), where the Kherson City Court on 17 May remanded him in custody for two months.

The SBU allege that Vyshynsky founded a number of legal entities, including Interselect, which is known as RIA News Ukraine. They assert that the network of entities was created primarily “to conceal the Russian sources of financing for the resource and the contacts between this structure and the Moscow office of Russia Today', the article reads.

Related: Merkel intends to discuss RIA News Director arrest with Poroshenko

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group also notes that many 'international media watchdogs have demanded to know what the charges are about although the SBU report and briefing does essentially make this clear'. SBU investigators have allegedly established that during the Spring of 2014, Vyshynsky went to Crimea where, on the instructions of the Russia Today management, “he personally took part in propaganda campaigns aimed at supporting annexation and the joining of the peninsula to the Russian Federation. For his action in support of the aggressor state, Vyshynsky was, via a secret decree from the Russian President awarded a medal: ‘For services to the Fatherland’, the commentary goes on.

Related: What is RIA Novosti news agency's director accused of?

'Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian state-controlled media have made much of what Putin claimed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel was “an extraordinary example of persecution of the media”. There is a great deal to say about Russia’s persecution of Ukrainian journalists such as Crimeans Mykola Semena, Nariman Memedeminov, as well as Ukrinform correspondent Roman Sushchenko, though that would obviously not justify similar behaviour from Ukraine. It is critical that the SBU avoids any irregularities and that it is able to substantiate all claims made, particularly with respect to the medals allegedly received by Vyshynsky', reads the story.

Read the full article here.

Related: RIA Novosti news agency editor-in-chief arrested for two months

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