Ukrainian Journalists who were Banned from Entering Crimea by Russia, Applied to EHCR

Ukrainian journalists, whose access to the peninsula was forbidden because they unveiled the pressures of the invading administration in Crimea, applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the illegal actions of the occupying power.

Mr. Serhiy Zayets, the lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Group, reported that Ukrainian journalist Olena Savchuk and photographer Alina Smutko have filed complaints with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the Russian FSB’s decision to ban entry into the occupied Crimea.

“These cases generate interest since, first of all, they raise the issue of violations of freedom of speech in terms of numerous allegations that Russia does not allow journalists into the occupied territories and hides what is happening there. That is, this story about the entry ban is no longer just highlight declarations, but a real fact. And these bans cannot be justified by any other reason, except by the journalistic activity of Olena and Alina, ” the lawyer said.

The lawyer added that considering the complaints from the journalists, the ECHR will have to answer questions about the territorial belonging of Crimea.

“Freedom of movement is a right guaranteed by the second article of the fourth protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This right is guaranteed to everyone who is legally present in the territory of a country within that country. These complaints raise, inter alia, the question of freedom of movement. The point is that Russia forbids Ukrainian citizens to enter the occupied territory of this country. Thus, considering these complaints to the European Court, they will have to answer the question: “Whom Crimea belongs to?” In other words, the court will have to answer: in these cases does the second article of the fourth protocol of the convention apply or not? ” the lawyer explained.

Zayets also noted that before the ECHR Russia is likely to defend its position saying that to maintain public safety and order, the presence of journalists is to be restricted in the occupied territories.
Prior to the ban on entry into the annexed Crimea, Olena Savchuk and Alina Smutko, in particular, worked with the Krym.Realii (RFE/RL).

On November 24, 2018, while trying to enter the Crimea, Ukraine freelance journalist Olena Savchuk was banned by the Russian FSB to entry the Crimean soil for 10 years – until August 28, 2028.

In its document, the FSB referred to the paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Art. 27 of the Federal Law, “Entry into the Russian Federation for a foreign citizen or person without citizenship is not allowed in order to guarantee defence or security of the state or public order.”

On February 18, 2019, photographer Alina Smutko, who collaborated with Krym.Realii, was banned from entering the Russian-annexed Crimea until 2028. She explained the ban by her professional activity.

On January 18, 2020, Ukrainian journalist Taras Ibragimov, who works with Krym.Realii, was banned by Russian FSB border guards from entering Russia and its annexed Crimea until the end of May 2054.

(c) QHA

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