JERSEY CITY – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement—on the ninth anniversary of Russia’s purported and illegal annexation of Crimea—calling on Russian authorities to immediately release unjustifiably jailed journalists in occupied Crimea, including former Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty freelance correspondent Vladislav Yesypenko:
“Two years ago today, on the ninth anniversary of Russia’s purported and illegal annexation of Crimea, Vladislav Yesypenko, a Ukrainian journalist reporting in Simferopol, in Russian-occupied Crimea for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was forced by Russian authorities to issue a scripted confession for blatantly false charges. Since being found guilty by an illegally established Russian court, he has been tortured, threatened with death, prevented from accessing proper medical care, and held incommunicado.
“I am proud to join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s Defending Freedom Project as an advocate for fourteen reporters jailed on the peninsula, including Yesypenko, as we push for their release and amplify their fight for the truth. Russia’s treatment of Yesypenko demonstrates the depths to which Russia has sunk in its effort to quash dissent and to continue its barbaric occupation of Crimea. Until the reporters are released, and until Russia ends its horrific occupation of Crimea, persecution of the Crimean Tatar people, and war on Ukraine, Congress will pursue accountability. These crimes will not go unpunished.”