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US press freedom NGO blasts Kiev’s move to ban 41 international journalists and bloggers

September 17, 2015, 9:33 UTC+3 NEW YORK
While the government may not like or agree with the coverage, labeling journalists a potential threat to national security is not an appropriate response, the organization says
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin/Archive

NEW YORK, September 17. /TASS/. The New York-based media freedom advocacy organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned a decree signed by President Petro Poroshenko on banning 41 international journalists and bloggers from Ukraine for one year.

The reporters and bloggers were among 388 people and 105 legal entities on Kiev’s sanctions list unveiled on Wednesday. The list also includes politicians, culture figures and others who acted as observers at the referendum in Crimea and the elections in the territories in eastern Ukraine uncontrolled by Kiev.

"We are dismayed by President Poroshenko's actions, including a ban on dozens of international media covering Ukraine," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said, according to the organization’s website.

"While the government may not like or agree with the coverage, labeling journalists a potential threat to national security is not an appropriate response. In fact, this sweeping decree undermines Ukraine's interests by blocking vital news and information that informs the global public about the country's political crisis."

The 34 journalists and seven bloggers on Ukraine’s list come from Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, the CPJ says.

Poroshenko has also banned three BBC journalists including a Moscow correspondent. Andrew Roy, the BBC’s foreign editor, has dismissed the measure as "a shameful attack on media freedom."

The Russian journalists on the blacklist work for the news agencies TASS, RIA Novosti and RUPTLY, the Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, the NTV and Channel One TV channels. Rossiya Segodnya Director General Dmitry Kiselev is also on the list.

Poroshenko’s decree says those on the blacklist "threaten national security…promote terrorist activity and violate people’s rights, interests of citizens and the state."

TASS said in a statement that Kiev’s decision to include to the sanctions list the journalists working for the news agency is strange and lessens possibilities for the unbiased coverage of events in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s restrictions target a total of 16 deputies of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, and three members of the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

The blacklist also includes State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, Chairman of State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov and Chairman of Federation Council International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev.

Other Russians on the list are Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow-based human rights bureau and a member of the presidential council for civil society development and human rights, Russian president’s adviser Sergey Glazyev and Russian Children’s Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov.

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