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Russian reporters leave Ukraine as country's authorities demand

May 19, 2014, 18:34 UTC+3 19 19/5

A special correspondent of VGTRK, who worked together with a group in Ukraine, said that Ukrainian police had asked to leave the county before May 19

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Russia-Ukraine border crosing (archive)

Russia-Ukraine border crosing (archive)

© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Kozlov

MOSCOW, May 19./ITAR-TASS/. A group of the media holding VGTRK (state television and radio broadcasting company) would return to Russia on Monday evening because the Ukrainian side had demanded to leave Ukraine, the company’s press service told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

"Ksenia Kibkalo's group, which was asked to leave Ukraine's territory, is returning to Russia. They are expected to arrive by plane in Moscow in the evening," the press service said.

Other correspondents of the company continued working in the country, the press service added.

Kibkalo, a special correspondent of VGTRK, who worked together with a group in Ukraine, said on Russia 24 television that Ukrainian police had asked them to leave the county before May 19. Otherwise, the Ukrainian side warned they would be forced out of the country and a criminal case would be opened against Kibkalo.

The Russian Embassy in Kiev noted it was not the first case of detention of Russian media reporters by Ukrainian authorities. On April 16, servicemen of Ukrainian armed forces detained a VGTRK group. On April 23, members of a local self defense force in Pervomaisk, the Dnepropetrovsk region, detained and beat up journalist Stepan Chirich of Russian NTV. Cases when Ukrainian military or law-enforcement services prevented Russian journalists from working were reported from various sites of the country, the embassy noted.

Earlier, on May 16, two ITAR-TASS reporters at Donetsk airport were denied entry to Ukraine. Without explanations, they were led to an airliner, and they had to return back. "We must not explain our decisions," Ukrainian border guard officer Gembov said. He had called senior officials, and apparently received instructions. The journalists received passports and other documents (without numbers) from the airliner captain after the flight. The documents explained the reporters were denied entry to Ukraine because allegedly they had another aim of the trip. A week earlier, another ITAR-TASS correspondent got into a similar situation. He had to return from Donetsk to Moscow after he was denied entry to Ukraine.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, asked the Ukrainian Interior Ministry to free the Russian reporters detained near Kramatorsk, the OSCE press service said on Monday.

In a letter addressed to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, she expressed concern over the incident and asked authorities to release the reporters and thoroughly investigate the incident, the press service said in a statement.

LifeNews reporters Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko were detained by Ukrainian authorities near Kramatorsk. The last contact with the reporters was during the daytime on Sunday, May 18. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed that "persons who introduced themselves as reporters and Russian Federation citizens" were detained near Kramatorsk.

Mijatovic noted several Russian journalists, including reporters from Zvezda, NTV, First Channel and TVC channels, were denied entry to Ukraine. All were accredited by Ukrainian authorities for coverage of the presidential elections, she said in a statement.

The OSCE representative urged to stop frightening and interfering into work of media. “Journalists must be free to do their job without fear for their safety," she noted.

“All political leaders engaged in resolving the crisis in Ukraine need to clearly understand that violations of media freedom are unacceptable," she said.

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