Staunton, February 21 – When they arrived in 2014, the Russian invaders and then occupiers took dramatic actions against media freedom there, actions which attracted international attention and condemnation. Now, these actions continue, Ukrainian activists say, but they seldom get the attention they did or should.
In an effort to change this situation, the ZMINA rights group has released a report documenting the various ways from arrests, fines and imprisonments, harassments and closures that the occupiers have used against journalists in Crimea (qha.com.ua/ru/kryimskie-tataryi/nezalezhnih-zmi-v-krimu-praktichno-ne-zalishilos-pravozahisniki-prezentuvali-dopovid-pro-peresliduvannya-zhurnalistiv-i-blogeriv-za-ves-period-rosijskoyi-okupatsiyi/).
But because past repressions have been so severe, there are fewer new official actions to report, and that has led to a decline in attention to the way in which the situation now is much worse than it was in 2014 or 2015. The occupiers now don’t have to take as many actions as they did because they have already achieved their goals.
Groups like the ZMINA and the Crimean Human Rights Group are seeking to keep the attention of Kyiv and the West focused on that situation; but they face an uphill fight because the silence of a cemetery does not offer many occasions for reporting, given how many specific actions of abuse clamor for attention.
As a result, many casual observers draw the mistaken conclusion that the situation in Russian-occupied Crimea has “normalized” and that there is nothing that needs to be done. In fact, it has been “normalized” if that is understood to be the kind of situation Putin wants. It is totally abnormal in terms of media freedom and human rights.
That must never be forgotten and so it can’t be said too often.