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Russian journalist banned from entering Ukraine for 5 years

May 30, 2014, 13:32 UTC+3 30 30/5
He was held for several hours in a room for guards, and then taken to a train bound for the Russian city of Belgorod
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Border crossing between Russia and Ukraine (archive)

Border crossing between Russia and Ukraine (archive)

© ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Rogulin

KIEV, May 30. /ITAR-TASS/. The Ukrainian Security Service has barred a special correspondent of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, Alexander Kots, from entering the country. The journalist told this to ITAR-TASS on Friday.

He was held for several hours in a room for guards, and then taken to a train bound for the Russian city of Belgorod. He was banned from entering Ukraine for five years, he said.

Many Russian journalists have been barred from entering Ukraine. On Thursday, Kommersant FM correspondent Pyotr Parkhomenko was sent back to Moscow from Kiev's airport Borispol without explanation of reasons.

A Kommersant FM correspondent, Natalia Suvorova, was not allowed to enter Ukraine's territory, the radio station said in a statement last Saturday, May 24. The journalist traveled to Ukraine in a train. Border guards denied her entry, explaining the reporter did not have enough money. The journalist informed Ukrainian border guards that she had 6,000 roubles and a bank card. However, a paper was given to her, confirming she was denied entry because of shortage of money.

On May 23, cameramen from the Spanish language editorial office of the RT television news channel were barred from entering Ukraine without explanation of reasons, the television company said. RT is a global news television channel broadcasting from Russia for all over the world in English, Spanish and Arab. The reporters had accreditation of the Ukrainian Central Election Commission for coverage of the presidential elections. Cameraman Alexander Serichenko and his assistant Andrei Peleshok were denied entry when they arrived at the airport of Odessa. Without explaining reasons, border guards forced the reporters to buy tickets back to Moscow at their own expense.

On May 20, reporters of the Arab language editorial staff who arrived in Kiev to cover the presidential elections were also denied entry to Ukraine. After thorough examination of their luggage and questioning at Kiev's airport, the reporters were told that they "failed to explain the aim of their visit", though they were accredited for the elections. Border guards put marks "denied entry to Ukraine" in the journalists' passports.

On April 7, a cameraman from RUPTLY video agency, belonging to RT, was denied entry to Ukraine at Donetsk airport. The official explanation was that the cameraman did not have enough money to stay in the country.

Several Russian journalists were barred from entering Ukraine last week, ahead of Sunday's presidential vote. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the move and calls on Ukrainian authorities to allow all journalists to carry out their job without harassment, the CPJ has said in a statement.

“If Ukrainian authorities are looking to build a democratic state, they must stop barring the press from covering public events in the country, especially the presidential vote.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Orders of Courage last Wednesday to three Russian journalists for their courageous work in conflict-hit Ukraine.

The awards went to Fyodor Zavaleykov, a freelance video journalist from the Russia Today (RT) international news television channel, and to Marat Saichenko and Oleg Sidyakin from Russia’s LifeNews television channel.

Zavaleykov, 23, was severely wounded on May 9 while providing news coverage of a military operation in Ukraine’s eastern city of Mariupol. The journalist sustained an abdominal injury and underwent a surgery at a local hospital. Four days later he was flown on a medical jet to Moscow, where he was hospitalized for further treatment.

Sidyakin and Saichenko were detained by Ukrainian law enforcers near the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine on May 18. Victoria Siumar, a deputy head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, accused the LifeNews journalists of being “members of terrorist groups”.

Both journalists were released on the early morning of May 25. According to LifeNews, representatives of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov negotiated the journalists’ release in Kiev for several days in conditions of absolute secrecy for the sake of the captives’ security.

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