Accessibility links

Breaking News

Free Vladyslav Yesypenko

Vladyslav Yesypenko: RFE/RL Contributor Imprisoned in Russian-Occupied Crimea

Vladyslav Yesypenko, a dual Ukrainian-Russian citizen who contributed to Crimea.Realities, a regional news outlet of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, was detained by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) in Simferopol on March 10, 2021, on suspicion of collecting information for Ukrainian intelligence. Vladyslav left Crimea for mainland Ukraine with his family following the 2014 Russian annexation, returning periodically to report for RFE/RL on the social and environmental situation on the peninsula.

On July 15, 2021, Vladyslav was charged with “possession and transport of explosives,” a charge he steadfastly denies. On February 16, 2022, a Russian judge in occupied Crimea sentenced him to six years in prison in a closed-door trial. Prosecutors have since admitted that a grenade “found” in Vladyslav’s vehicle did not have his fingerprints on it. On August 18, 2022, the Moscow-controlled Supreme Court of Crimea shortened his prison term to five years.

During his trial, Vladyslav said he was tortured with electric shocks to extract a false confession. Recalling the torture, he said: "My eyes hurt and my brain almost boiled...I was ready to sign anything or tell them anything." In November 2022, a Ukrainian prosecutor launched criminal proceedings against a Russian FSB officer for unlawful detention and torture. In September, 2023 the EU announced sanctions on six individuals, including two judges and one prosecutor who took part in the politically motivated proceedings against Vladyslav, and two officers of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) who are responsible for torturing the journalist.

Vladyslav has been recognized for his courageous and incisive journalism. He is the recipient of a Free Media Award from the Fritt Ord Foundation and ZEIT-Stiftung for his reporting in Crimea following its illegal annexation by Russia. In 2022, he received the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, which his wife Kateryna accepted with his young daughter, Stephania.

Ukrainian and international civil society organizations, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Crimean Human Rights Group, Human Rights Watch, PEN America, and Reporters Without Borders, along with U.S. and Ukrainian officials, are among those who have called for Vladyslav’s immediate release.

Journalists in Trouble

RFE/RL journalists and staff risk intimidation, physical harm, and imprisonment because of their work. It is RFE/RL’s top priority to advocate for the release of our imprisoned journalists and ensure our staff can do their jobs free of threats, intimidation, and violence. Join us in advocating for press freedom and supporting journalists who have been unjustly imprisoned by subscribing to the "Journalists in Trouble" newsletter.

Subscribe To The Journalists in Trouble Newsletter