“Crimea.Realities”, 2016 winner
2015 marked the first full operational year for Krym.Realii, the division of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service that delivers radio, TV, and online news to people living in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in March 2014.
- At least four Krym.Realii contributors in 2015 were detained and subjected to questioning by Russia’s security service. Several were accused of “extremism,” the blanket accusation used against anyone who refuses to recognize Crimea as a Russian territory. Others had their property searched or, in one case, their car dismantled as they attempted to cross the administrative border with the Ukrainian mainland.
- Nine correspondents were forced to leave the peninsula, including the head of Krym.Realii, Volodymyr Prytula, who fled to Kyiv with his family and would face certain arrest if he returned home. At least four were forced to halt their work out of concern for their safety.
- Contributors who remained on the peninsula work without the safety net of accreditation, which is granted only to journalists working for pro-Russian media. Krym.Realii correspondents have been banned from official events, subjected to wiretapping, detentions, and public intimidation, and seen their family members harassed.
- The Krym.Realii website has been blocked on numerous occasions and, more seriously, threatened with closure by the peninsula’s pro-Kremlin prosecutor-general for alleged extremism by citing sources who reject Crimea as a part of Russia.
Despite such challenges, Krym.Realii has remained one of the most potent media outlets in Crimea, and virtually its only remaining source of independent news. Its journalists remain committed to the principle of delivering unbiased and accurate reporting to a besieged region that is rapidly becoming an information desert and a dangerous place for even mild dissent.