(New York, NY) – In response to the news that Ukrainian journalist Mykola Semena has been released from house arrest and cleared of all charges, PEN America’s Eurasia program director, Polina Sadovskaya, made the following statement:

“It is deeply gratifying that Mykola has not only been released from house arrest but also cleared of the spurious charges he faced. Like so many others in Crimea, Mykola was unjustly punished for speaking out against Russia’s illegal annexation of the peninsula. While Russia’s efforts to silence critics continue, we are delighted that Mykola is now free to make his voice heard again and to return to his journalism.”   

Semena, a Crimean journalist and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty contributor, came out of retirement following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. He was first detained on April 19, 2016 on charges of acting against the “territorial integrity of the Russian Federation,” under the Russian Criminal Code’s Article 280.1. Following his brief release, house arrest, secondary detention, and a widely-criticized trial, he was found guilty on charges of separatism in 2017 and handed a suspended sentence of two and-a-half years. He was also barred from “public activities,” deemed to include journalism, for three years. 

PEN America remains concerned about the nearly 100 political prisoners, including many citizen journalists, imprisoned in Russia and Crimea, and continues to advocate against attempts to stifle free expression and the shrinking space for critical journalism in Crimea.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, [email protected], +1 202 309 8892