The daily beast
Journalist jailed in Russia says he falsely confessed after electric shock torture
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo via Youtube Crimean journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko languishes in a Russian prison after claiming to be subjected to a series of grueling torture sessions. His crime? Working as an independent contributor to US-sponsored Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL), one of the media organizations that has long been a thorn in the side of the Kremlin.RFE / RL, a media company Editorial independent, funded by a grant from the US Congress, is the biggest target on the Kremlin’s list of inconvenient news sources. It offers independent coverage that is radically different from that of state-controlled media, including coverage of anti-government protests, and has the largest audience of any international media operating in Russia. The popularity and journalistic independence of RFE / RL does not suit the Kremlin or the multitude of its devoted propagandists. Russian state media consistently portray the organization as an infamous tool of US intelligence agencies. Russian TV Circus: Biden desperately “begged” for Putin talks The case of Vladyslav Yesypenko, who worked for the Ukrainian service of RFE / RL, is clearly part of the Kremlin’s agenda to eliminate independent media coverage that does not is not controlled by the Russian regime. In March, he was apprehended by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) after covering an event in honor of Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in the city of Simferopol on the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, annexed by Russia in 2014. Yesypenko did not resist his arrest, but was nevertheless thrown to the ground, face down, while his vehicle was searched. His wife, Ekaterina Yesypenko, believes it was done to plant a pomegranate that was allegedly “found” in her husband’s vehicle. In a heartbreaking video, she proclaimed her husband’s innocence and demanded his immediate release. During Yesypenko’s first closed-door appearance, the reporter said he was beaten and tortured with electricity in order to obtain a false confession, which he quickly refuted and demanded to step down during the interview. same hearing. Yesypenko reported that his jailers threatened to kill him and pass his death off as suicide, unless he agrees to confess to crimes he says he did not commit. After two days of torture, Yesypenko says he was forced to say he was spying on behalf of Ukraine. Before he was allowed to see a lawyer, journalists from Russian state television arrived to film the confession. Yesypenko was given a written text to be read aloud and forced to answer questions the way his jailers demanded. In addition to the “espionage” allegations, Yesypenko faces charges of illegally manufacturing firearms due to the grenade he said suddenly appeared in his car at the time of his arrest. The journalist denies making or owning such a device, and a fingerprint scan failed to locate Yesypenko’s fingerprints on the weapon. If convicted of firearms, Yesypenko could stay in a Russian prison for up to six years; if convicted of espionage, he could face 20. Targeting Yesypenko is just one of many ways the Kremlin is trying to force RFE / RL out of Russia. The organization’s bank accounts have been frozen and it faces hefty fines from Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor of more than $ 2.4 million for being labeled a “foreign agent” and refusing to act. comply with labeling requirements for its information content. Since October 2020, Roskomnadzor has ordered broadcasters designated as foreign agents to add a lengthy statement to news reports, social media posts and audiovisual materials stating that the content was created by a medium “performing the functions of an agent foreign”. As an independent editorial organization, RFE / RL has refused to publicly label itself as an agent of the US government. To date, appeals for exorbitant fines filed by RFE / RL have been summarily dismissed by Russian courts. This month, Russian judicial officers arrived at RFE / RL’s Moscow office to inform the organization of the opening of enforcement proceedings against the company for its rapidly increasing fines. If the fines continue to be imposed at the current rate, they will likely reach around $ 33 million by the end of 2021. And if they are not paid, the Russian authorities have the power to bankrupt RFE / RL and to block access to the media sites of the press organization. RFE / RL Moscow office general manager Andrei Shary could face up to two years in prison and personal bankruptcy. Kremlin mouth warns of “inevitable” war with the United States for another Ukrainian land. his family, which is haunted by a history of political repression. Yesypenko’s sister Larisa Krupina, a journalist herself, told the Daily Beast that her great-grandfather was sent into exile in the Urals, along with his wife and children. After years of forced labor, Yesypenko’s great-grandparents died in exile. Their grandfather was accused of being “an enemy of the people” and shot dead for allegedly making anti-Soviet statements. Larisa remembered her brother’s 45th birthday, when Vladyslav told her: “All our lives are still ahead of us, but our grandfather was shot when he was only 42! It was such terrible times. But terrible times are returning with vengeance, as Putin’s Russia returns to the ways of the past. “We couldn’t even imagine that those terrible times of Stalin would return, that totalitarianism, the dark legacy of the Soviet Union, is still alive,” Larisa told the Daily Beast. “Taking our great-grandfather and our grandfather was not enough. Now they want to take Vlad. And the methods are painfully similar. Ridiculous accusations, lack of access to independent defense lawyers, inhumane torture. Let’s go back to 1937, as if the last 84 years had never happened. The unprecedented actions of the Russian government will have a profound chilling effect on what little independent media remains in the Russian Federation. “This is the culmination of years of Kremlin efforts to limit our access to the Russian public. They now see us and other independent media as so threatening that we shouldn’t even be allowed to maintain a physical presence in Moscow, ”RFE / RL Chairman Jamie Fly told The Daily Beast. In order to neutralize RFE / RL and deter Russian citizens from working for the media, the organization’s local freelancers have been designated as “foreign agents”, requiring them to identify themselves as such in all electronic communications and to file documents. detailed financial statements to the authorities. On Wednesday’s broadcast of his nighttime show, state television host Vladimir Soloviev demanded that all RFE / RL freelancers be publicly named and labeled as people receiving funds from foreign governments. To make matters worse, Russian authorities are initiating bogus criminal charges against RFE / RL reporters, with the aim of destroying not only their livelihoods and reputation, but also their lives and freedom. The ministry spokeswoman called RFE / RL “the US government’s propaganda spokesperson.” Last Wednesday, on the television show 60 Minutes, Nikolai Starikov, chairman of the ultra-conservative Great Fatherland Party, baselessly asserted that RFE / RL is directly affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 60 Minutes host Evgeny Popov has sounded and criticized RFE / RL as “the State Department’s trash” – a phrase he frequently uses on air and in his social media posts. “RFE / RL’s journalism and content production in Russia is the product of a large network of courageous contributors,” said Fly. “We have worked with independent journalists in Russia for decades, and we will do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of those who work with us, no matter what the Kremlin does to undermine the rights of these Russians to provide a public service to their fellow citizens. National and international support is what gives strength and hope to Yesypenko and his family. His wife, Ekaterina, told the Daily Beast that moments of gloomy desperation are overcome by messages of support pouring in day and night, for which the family is eternally grateful. The mistreatment of the journalist has been condemned around the world, including by the US State Department, the European and International Federations of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, among others. Despite what he’s been through, the reporter still tries to cheer his family up in a series of letters – even promising his young daughter that he would end up writing her a story about the prison to explain everything that happened. had passed. “I can only imagine the characters,” Vladyslav’s wife said, marveling at her husband’s strength and sense of humor. “Our 6 year old daughter has aged a lot over the past two months,” said Ekaterina. When the child saw the video of her father’s arrest, she refused to be taken away from the television set. “I want to see the rest,” she asked, “I want to see daddy stand up and fight.” Register now ! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.