KIEV (Sputnik) — A court in Ukraine's Zhytomyr region sentenced two journalists, who had been previously detained on charges of separatism, to nine years in prison, local media reported.
The Andrushovsky court of the Zhytomyr region found journalists Dmitry Vasilets and Evgeny Timonin guilty, both were given nine years in prison, including the time already spent by them in the pre-trial detention facility, where Vasilets and Timonin have been since 2015, the Strana.ua website reported.
According to the publication, the verdict was read out in the absence of the defendants. Vasilets was forced out of the courtroom by order of the judge — the defendant began to criticize the court for the decision, and Timonin left the room by his own will.
Journalists Dmitry Vasilets and Evgeny Timonin have been detained on charges of separatism, in particular, over the creation of the Novorossiya TV channel, the newspaper added.
Their lawyer, Svetlana Novitskaya, told Sputnik that Vasilets and Timonin had been found guilty of "creating a terrorist group or terrorist organization." In addition, Timonin was also found guilty of "public calls for the commission of a terrorist act" and "stirring up ethnic hatred."
The lawyer believes that the decision is wrong, as no evidence of guilt was presented. She intends to challenge the verdict. "Of course, we will appeal the verdict. We are now writing complaints to the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, to the OSCE — they were following this case. We will now write to all media outlets, to Amnesty International, to all human rights organizations, international organizations," the lawyer said, adding that she plans to file an appeal within a week.
In early August, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the OSCE and the Council of Europe member states, as well as international organizations, to condemn Kiev's policy against the media. There are already dozens of cases of harassment of journalists in Ukraine, in particular, a criminal case against journalist Vasily Muravitsky accused of high treason, as well as persecution of the Strana.ua editor Igor Guzhva was arrested in Kiev on June 22 over blackmailing charges. Guzhva considers the case against him a planned provocation.
Kiev has also been repeatedly restricting the work of the Russian media in the country, including regularly denying Russian journalists entry to Ukraine. In March 2015, Kiev suspended the accreditation of 115 Russian media outlets to state authorities in Ukraine. Broadcasting of major Russian TV channels is prohibited in Ukraine as well. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the ban of Russian TV channels was an attack on media freedom and called on the OSCE, the EU and the US to react toughly to this ban, as well as to deportation of Russian journalists from Ukraine, saying that double standards in this area practiced by the West are unacceptable.