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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Vladyslav Yesypenko

Detained Since: March 10, 2021.

Charges: Illegal production, repair, or modification of firearms.

Sentence: 5 years in prison and a fine of 110,000 Russian rubles.

Original Sentence: 6 years in prison and a fine of 110,000 Russian rubles.

Biography: Before the invasion and annexation of Crimea by Russia, Vladyslav Yesypenko resided in Sevastopol with his family. They then moved to Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. In 2016, he started collaborating with Radio Liberty’s Krym.Realii project as a freelance journalist. He prepared videos on social and ecological topics impacting the Crimean Tatar community. In 2021, while reporting in Crimea, Yesypenko was stopped by Russian security agents, tortured in detention, and forced to give a false confession. On February 16, 2022, he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and fined 110,000 Russian rubles. He has had health issues related to his kidneys while in prison. When he had a flare of his kidney condition in prison, he was prevented from accessing healthcare.

Yesypenko was given the 2022 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award by PEN America.

Advocate: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

Advocacy Partner: PEN America


  • In August 2022, the Russian controlled Supreme Court of occupied Crimea decreased Yesypenko's sentence from six to five years. This change has decreased the amount of time he must wait to apply for an "early-release" (August 18, 2022, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty).
  • Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) released a statement on March 18, 2023, calling for the release of all 14 Crimean Journalists in the Defending Freedoms Project, emphasizing Yesypenko's health concerns and his denial of due process (March 18, 2023, Senate Foreign Relations Committee).