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Journalists in Trouble: EU Sanctions Russian Officials Involved in Torture, Political Imprisonment of RFE/RL Journalist in Crimea

EU sanctions Russian officials for torture, imprisonment of Vladyslav Yesypenko; RFE/RL and partners draw attention to plight of civilian prisoners in Russian-occupied Crimea; UNHRC session highlights incommunicado detention in Belarus; and more.

UKRAINE: EU Sanctions Russian Officials Involved in Torture, Political Imprisonment of RFE/RL Journalist in Crimea

On September 8, the EU announced sanctions on six individuals, including two judges and one prosecutor who took part in the politically motivated proceedings against Vladyslav Yesypenko, and two officers of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) who are responsible for torturing the journalist.

Vladyslav Yesypenko is an RFE/RL contributor who has been imprisoned in Russian-occupied Crimea since March 2021. During his trial, Vladyslav testified that he was tortured with electric shocks to extract a false confession. He is currently serving a five-year sentence.

"I'm grateful to our European partners for their commitment to hold to account those responsible for Vladyslav Yesypenko's unjust imprisonment and inhumane treatment. Vlad should be released immediately to his wife and young daughter," acting RFE/RL President Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin said.

Vladyslav Yesypenko is one of dozens of Ukrainian civilians wrongfully detained on the Crimean Peninsula. On October 5, RFE/RL and Human Rights Centre ZMINA co-hosted a press briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine drawing attention to the plight of civilian prisoners in Crimea.

The event featured Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine; Oleksandr Kononenko, Representative of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the defense and security sector; Tamila Tasheva, Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine in Crimea; Vladyslav’s wife Kateryna Yesypenko; Olha Skrypnyk, Chairperson of the Crimean Human Rights Group; and RFE/RL Editor-in-Chief Nicola Careem. We are grateful to Markéta Pekarová Adamová, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, for her recorded remarks. Watch the event here.

UKRAINE: Vladyslav Yesypenko “Amazed” By Outpouring of Solidarity Letters

Vladyslav Yesypenko’s wife Kateryna Yesypenko told RFE/RL her husband was “amazed by the large number of letters” he has recently received from supporters in the Czech Republic. Vladyslav noted there were many RFE/RL employees among those who wrote and said their letters represented a “touching manifestation of journalistic solidarity."

The letters were sent as part of a campaign launched by Amnesty International Czech Republic. It’s not too late to 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 Russia/Ukraine
  • In Russian: Владислав Есипенко, Исправительная колония №2 Адрес: 298330, Республика Крым, г. Керчь, ул. Индустриальное шоссе, 17 Россия/Украина

4. Please do not send any packages.

RFE/RL’s Persian-language service Radio Farda is launching the Mahsa Zhina Amini Fellowship to support young Iranian women advocating for women’s rights and empowerment. Applications are due on October 31. Share the call for applications →

BELARUS: UNHRC Session Highlights Incommunicado Detention of Political Prisoners

On September 22, the UN Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Belarus. During the discussion, Deputy High Commissioner Nada Al-Nashif and representatives of several member states expressed deep concern over the notable increase in the practice of incommunicado detention targeting Belarusian political prisoners.

Political prisoners currently being held incommunicado in Belarus include RFE/RL journalist Ihar Losik, who has been imprisoned since June 2020. Prison authorities continue to deny Ihar any communication with the outside world, including with legal counsel. The last time his family heard from him was 232 days ago.

ICYMI: Watch RFE/RL Belarus Service journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich talk about his time in prison, the book he's written, and what he would say to his two colleagues –– Andrey Kuznechyk and Ihar Losik –– who are still behind bars. Click here to learn more about imprisoned RFE/RL journalists.

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