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Judge Rejects Semena Defense Motions At Latest Hearing; Next Session On August 31

Crimean journalist and RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- On August 3, the presiding judge in the trial on separatism charges of Crimean journalist and RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena rejected efforts by Semena’s lawyer, Aleksandr Popkov, to obtain Federal Security Service (FSB) documents cited in earlier testimony by a prosecution witness. Popkov argued that the documents, which the witness claimed guided her review of a 2015 article Semena wrote for RFE/RL's Krym.Realii (Crimea Realities) website, are relevant to Semena’s defense.

Popkov also told RFE/RL that the judge refused to rule as inadmissible Federal Security Service (FSB) documents that showed inconsistencies during the initial investigation of the case, and rejected a defense motion to allow human rights activist Mikhail Savva and “Crimea.Realities” chief Volodymyr Prytula to testify via videoconference from mainland Ukraine.

The judge scheduled the next hearing in the trial for August 31.

Semena faces up to five years in prison if convicted on the charge of publishing an article called for the violation of Russia’s territorial integrity.

Following the hearing, Semena told RFE/RL that he hoped the court would take into consideration several documents that were accepted into the case file during the previous hearing on July 18, including resolutions from the UN General Assembly and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, as well as Russian laws that guarantee freedom of expression.

Both international resolutions condemned the annexation of Crimea as illegal under international law.

Semena's trial has been postponed several times since it started in late March.