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MOSCOW, September 7. /TASS/. Moldovan border officials at Chisinau airport have warned that journalists working for Russian broadcaster LifeNews will be handed over to Ukraine if they make information about their detention public, LifeNews editor-in-chief Anatoly Suleymanov told TASS.
He confirmed that "correspondent Alexey Kazannikov and his cameraman did not have journalistic accreditation required by the foreign ministry".
"But frankly speaking, if we are talking about European countries, which Moldova is seeking to become, we sometimes sent journalists without accreditation when it was an urgent editorial task and then we sent on documents, and everything was alright," Suleymanov said.
"In this situation, we also thought that everything will be alright and that documents will be sent shortly afterwards but the journalists have not been allowed entry. They have been turned around and told to go back to Moscow at their expense," he added.
Suleymanov said the reporters, on Kiev’s lists of journalists banned from entering Ukraine, "have been denied entry [to Moldova] and threatened that they will be handed over to the Ukrainian side". "I believe that Moldova has these lists, and based on them, they have not been allowed," he said, adding that the reporters were currently waiting for their flight back to Moscow, which would most likely be only in the evening.
Suleymanov said, in citing LifeNews correspondent Aleksey Kazannikov, that even in the airport’s transit zone the channel crew's movement had been restricted.
"The security service has prohibited us from taking out our cameras and covering events, let alone going on air. Now they are also keeping watch over us," Kazannikov was quoted as saying, adding that airport security officials were on guard in the transit lounge to prevent the journalists from doing their job.
On Monday, LifeNews said its crew had been denied permission to cross into Moldova. "It is already for more than eight hours that we are in the transit zone at Chisinau airport together with my colleague Natalya Kalysheva," correspondent Aleksey Kazannikov was quoted as saying.
"They have still not returned our passports. We only have a paper in our hands listing several points why we are not allowed into Moldova," he said, adding that "the main point" in the document was the absence of permission for special equipment the crew did not have.
Kazannikov said a customs officer had rudely asked the journalists to explain the purpose of their trip. Then airport officials told them to fill in a customs declaration form, checked their bags and confiscated a flash drive storing Kazannikov’s report.
"An Air Moldova spokesperson told us that border guards had given them a task to bring us back to Moscow by all means and do it at our expense," the correspondent said, adding the crew had been asked to leave by lunchtime.