How to save Vladislav Esipenko

After Russia illegally occupied the peninsula in 2014, adherence to the law and human rights has become quite conditional concept in Crimea. As the dissatisfaction of the indigenous population with the actions of the new authorities grew, the relevant bodies of the Russian Federation fell into more harsh response to any manifestations of free thought, criticism of the authorities, and disagreement with the illegal occupation of Crimea. And given the current aggravation of the situation between the countries, it is not surprising that the Kremlin is now actively looking for “Ukrainian spies” in the Crimea.

The “trial” of journalist Vladislav Esipenko, who was illegally arrested in Crimea, has been going on for more than a month. Russia has accused him of working for Ukrainian special services and preparing terrorist attacks on the peninsula. The “proof” was alleged possession of improvised explosive device.

On April 6, during a session of the so-called supreme court of Crimea, V. Esipenko withdrew his confession, saying that he had been subjected to illegal interrogation methods, including torture: they put a plastic bag on his head to deprive him of air, he was connected to current, brutally beaten, threatened with murder by hanging in a cell, in order to get a confession of what he did not commit. Unable to withstand the physical and psychological pressure, Esipenko signed a “confession”.

Thus, Russia has another political hostage, whom it can use to put pressure on Ukraine. Given that the Russian judicial system is completely under the control of the authorities, there is no prospect for a fair trial of the journalist — he is not even allowed to have independent lawyers.

The only way to achieve justice for V. Esipenko is to make the blatant facts of human rights violations in Crimea public. That is the purpose for people from different states throughout the world (Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Moldova) to protest on April 10 near the Russian diplomatic missions against lawlessness on the illegally occupied peninsula.

In this situation, even a single picketing is of great importance, as it is critical to draw attention of the wide international community to the current Crimean events by all means. It is required to force the Russian diplomats to answer awkward questions related to numerous and egregious cases of human rights violations: repression, illegal detentions and torture, illegal sentencing of public activists. Wide public response will attract the attention of politicians and international organizations and thus increase international pressure on the Russian authorities.

Let’s bear in mind that thanking to broad international support, once it became possible to release Crimean Oleg Sentsov from Russian captivity. The life of a journalist Vladislav Esipenko depends on all of us and on each of us individually.