Russian-appointed judges at a court in Ukraine’s occupied Crimea region have conducted a new hearing in the trial of Mykola Semena, an RFE/RL contributor who is fighting what he says is a politically motivated separatism charge.
Witnesses and experts called by the defense sought to discredit the results of a linguistic examination conducted by Olga Ivanova of the Crimean branch of Russia’s FSB security service while testifying at the trial on July 18.
Linguist Elena Novozhilova said that she had found many mistakes in Ivanova’s examination of Semena’s 2015 article for Crimea.Realities. She testified that, in her opinion, the article does not contain any calls for the violation of Russia’s territorial integrity—the crime that Semena is accused of committing in a 2015 article he wrote for RFE/RL’s Krym.Realii website.
The judge also agreed to include the UN General Assembly’s December 2016 resolution on human rights in Crimea—which was seized by Russia in 2014—in the case documents.
The next hearing in the trial is scheduled for August 3.
The trial in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, has been delayed several times since it started in late March. Semena contends that the accusation is baseless and politically motivated and that Russian authorities have based the case on an inaccurate Russian translation of his original Ukrainian text.
Semena faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Activists say Semena’s trial is part of a systemic Russian clampdown on independent media and dissent in Crimea since Moscow’s armed occupation and takeover of the peninsula.
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