New York, April 5, 2019 -- The trial of Kirill Vyshynsky, Kiev bureau chief of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, started yesterday in the Podil district court in Kiev, according to Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform. The court heard the prosecutor's indictment and will convene again on April 15, the news agency said.
The Security Service of Ukraine arrested Vyshynsky on May 15, 2018, as CPJ reported at the time. He has been charged with treason, and faces 15 years in prison if found guilty, according to Ukrinform; Vyshynsky denies the charges. Vyshynsky held both Russian and Ukrainian citizenship at the time of his arrest, but he renounced his Ukrainian citizenship during his detention, Ukrinform reported.
"We call on the Ukrainian authorities to immediately drop the charges against Kirill Vyshynsky and release him," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. "The authorities in Kiev should stop obstructing the work of media outlets and journalists whose views are not in line with their own."
The security service alleges that Vyshinsky published reports on RIA Novosti at the Russian government's request that sought to justify Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Security service officials also allege that Vyshinsky received financial support from the Russian government via other media companies registered in Ukraine in order to disguise links between RIA Novosti and Russian state media giant Rossia Segodnya, according to RFE/RL.