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Journalists in Trouble: Bishkek Court Annuls Decision to Shutter RFE/RL’s In-Country Operations


Ihar and Darya Losik
Ihar and Darya Losik

Kyrgyz court annuls decision to shutter RFE/RL; Czech Amnesty launches letter-writing campaign for Vladyslav Yesypenko; Ihar Losik marks three years in prison; and more.

KYRGYZSTAN: Bishkek Court Annuls Decision to Shutter RFE/RL’s In-Country Operations

On July 12, the Bishkek City Court approved a settlement agreement between RFE/RL and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy, effectively annulling an April 27 ruling approving the government’s request to revoke the license of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk.

“As a result of concerted advocacy and support from the international community, Radio Azattyk will continue to reach its audiences with trusted reporting,” said acting President Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin. “This welcome resolution is consistent with RFE/RL’s mission, principles, and journalistic standards.”

Since October 2022, Kyrgyz authorities have retaliated against RFE/RL for refusing to remove reporting about clashes at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, including by blocking Azattyk websites and freezing the Service’s bank account. These measures remain in effect at the time of writing.

The crackdown on Azattyk has been condemned widely by Kyrgyz and international civil society organizations, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, IFEX, the International Press Institute, and Reporters Without Borders. RFE/RL thanks them for their support.

UKRAINE: Amnesty International Czech Republic Launches Campaign for Imprisoned RFE/RL Journalist in Crimea

In June, Amnesty International Czech Republic launched a summer letter-writing campaign for Vladyslav Yesypenko, an RFE/RL journalist who has been imprisoned in Russian-occupied Crimea since March 2021. Vladyslav’s family says he is permitted to receive letters and that each one gives him hope. Here’s how you can join:

1. Write your letter or postcard in Russian, or use an online translator.
2. Make sure your letter or postcard does not contain political or religious themes.
3. List Vladyslav’s address in both English and Russian:

  • In English: Vladyslav Yesypenko, Correctional Colony No. 2, 298330, Respublika Krym, Kerch, str. Industrial highway, 17
  • In Russian: Исправительная колония №2 Адрес: 298330, Республика Крым, г. Керчь, ул. Индустриальное шоссе, 17

4. Please do not send any packages.

ICYMI: Czech President Petr Pavel highlighted the imprisonment of RFE/RL journalists Ihar Losik, Andrey Kuznechyk, and Vladyslav Yesypenko in his speech at a conference hosted by Czech Radio on June 22. We thank him for his support.

Ihar and Darya Losik
Ihar and Darya Losik

BELARUS: RFE/RL Journalist Ihar Losik Marks Three Years In Prison, Remains Incommunicado

On June 25, we marked RFE/RL journalist Ihar Losik’s third year behind bars in Belarus. Politicians, celebrities, and other public figures commemorated the grim anniversary by sharing solidarity messages online.

Ihar was detained in the lead-up to Belarus’s rigged election in August 2020 and sentenced to 15 years in prison on bogus charges. He is being held incommunicado – the last time anyone outside the prison colony had contact with him was 142 days ago.

Ihar’s wife Darya Losik was detained in October 2022 on charges related to her advocacy for her husband’s freedom. With both parents in prison, the Losiks’ four-year-old daughter Paulina is in the care of her maternal grandparents.

A second RFE/RL journalist, Andrey Kuznechyk, remains unjustly imprisoned in Belarus.

We encourage you to write to Ihar and Andrey. Although letters may not be delivered, they demonstrate continued outside interest to the Belarusian authorities.

WRITE TO IMPRISONED RFE/RL JOURNALISTS IN BELARUS:

1. Write postcards in Belarusian and mail them to the prisoners directly. Ihar and Andrey are both being held at: Penal colony No. 1. 211440, Navapolack, vulica Techničnaya 8, Belarus

2. Submit your messages in English or Belarusian to the Solidarity Postcards Atelier. Volunteers will mail the prisoners handwritten postcards on your behalf.

My name is Deniz Yuksel, Senior Advocacy Officer here at RFE/RL and the author of Journalists in Trouble. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter and for standing with persecuted journalists.

If you are interested in collaborating to amplify the stories of our imprisoned journalists, you can reach me by emailing advocacy@rferl.org. And, if you know someone who may be interested in Journalists in Trouble, click here to forward this edition to them.

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