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Journalists in Trouble: RFE/RL Hosts Wife of Imprisoned Crimean Journalist in Washington, D.C.

RFE/RL hosts Kateryna Yesypenko in D.C.; Armenian journalists targeted with Pegasus spyware; RFE/RL marks International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus; and more.

Kateryna Yesypenko and Jamie Fly stand in front of Ukraine House in Washington, D.C.
Jamie Fly, Kateryna Yesypenko, and Stefania Yesypenko at the Ukraine House in Washington, D.C. on May 18, 2023. Courtesy Image.

UKRAINE: RFE/RL Hosts Wife of Imprisoned Crimean Journalist in Washington, D.C.

In May, RFE/RL hosted Kateryna Yesypenko, wife of imprisoned RFE/RL journalist Vladyslav Yesypenko, and their daughter Stefania in Washington D.C. Vladyslav is a contributor for Crimea.Realities, a reporting project of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, who has been detained in Russian-occupied Crimea since March 2021.

As part of the visit, Kateryna and RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly joined the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the anniversary of the genocide of Crimean Tatars and advocate for Vladyslav’s release. Click here to watch the event.

RFE/RL is grateful to Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova; U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya; Washington Post columnist David Ignatius; Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ); and Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) for participating. We thank Human Rights Center ZMINA for its support.

ICYMI: Politico’s Ari Hawkins spoke with Jamie Fly and Kateryna Yesypenko about Vladyslav Yesypenko’s unjust imprisonment in Russian-occupied Crimea.

ARMENIA: Two RFE/RL Journalists Targeted with Pegasus Spyware

A May 25 report by several Internet watchdogs and rights groups confirmed two journalists with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service were targeted with Pegasus spyware in 2021, alongside ten other Armenian public figures and officials. Astghik Bedevyan and Karlen Aslanyan were targeted while covering the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

“I felt very insecure — my phone contains not only journalistic information but personal information, about my kids, photos, medical information,” said Astghik. Click here to watch Astghik and Karlen’s testimonies about the attack on their privacy.

“It is no accident that our Armenian Service journalists targeted with Pegasus spyware are well-known for their hard-hitting reporting,” said RFE/RL President and CEO Jamie Fly. “I am outraged by this gross violation of their privacy and harbor strong suspicions that the government of Azerbaijan is responsible. I am grateful to our partners for their assistance.”

The joint investigation by Amnesty International, Access Now, Citizen Lab, CyberHUB-AM, and independent researcher Ruben Muradyan noted that Pegasus software has been used “extensively” by the government of Azerbaijan to target journalists.

Azerbaijani authorities have previously targeted at least five journalists with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service with Pegasus spyware.

BELARUS: RFE/RL Marks International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus

On the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Belarus on May 21, RFE/RL reiterated its call for the immediate release of imprisoned Belarus Service journalists Ihar Losik and Andrey Kuznechyk. We are grateful to U.S. and EU officials who highlighted Ihar’s case in their messages commemorating May 21.

RFE/RL marked Ihar’s third birthday behind bars on May 20 and wrote him birthday cards with messages of solidarity. Send your own postcards to Ihar and Andrey. Here’s how:


  1. Write postcards in Belarusian and mail them to the prisoners directly. Both are being held at: Penal colony No. 1. 211440, Navapolack, vulica Techničnaya 8, Belarus
  2. Submit your messages in English or Belarusian to the Solidarity Postcards Atelier. Volunteers will mail the prisoners handwritten postcards on your behalf.

KYRGYZSTAN: RFE/RL and Partners Continue to Advocate for Radio Azattyk Amid Crackdown

On May 18, eight U.S. lawmakers, led by Representatives Bill Keating (D-MA), Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Dean Phillips (D-MN), sent a letter to Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov calling on his government to withdraw the order to shutter RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service and to allow its journalists to operate freely. RFE/RL is thankful for their support.

In April, a Bishkek court approved a request from the Kyrgyz Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy to revoke the license of RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, known locally as Radio Azattyk. RFE/RL is appealing this decision and continues to operate in Kyrgyzstan.

My name is Deniz Yuksel, Senior Advocacy Officer here at RFE/RL and the author of Journalists in Trouble. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter and for standing with persecuted journalists.

If you are interested in collaborating to amplify the stories of our imprisoned journalists, you can reach me by emailing