Free Media Awards 2022
Vladyslav Yesypenko - Ukraine

Freelance journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko who is currently being held as a political prisoner by Russian authorities on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula.

He is a striking example of the persecution of journalists who try to report from the peninsula. Like all Ukrainians in Crimea, Vladyslav Yesypenko, a national of Ukraine, was forced by Russian authorities to accept a Russian passport after the annexation of the peninsula in 2014. Legally, he remains a Ukrainian citizen. He is being awarded a Free Media Award for his crucial work as a journalist under extremely difficult conditions. He reported on the confiscation of property, the life of the Crimean Tatars, ecological crises and the destruction in the wake of the Russian Occupation of the Crimean Peninsula for RFE/RL’s Crimea.Realities, before being captured by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in March 2021 in Simferopol, where he was suspected of gathering information for the Ukrainian intelligence service. Vladyslav Yesypenko was subjected to electric shock torture, and then forced to make a false confession on Russian TV. In February 2022, he was wrongfully sentenced to six years in prison. Yesypenko was nominated by the Human Rights House Foundation.