MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Latvia has ‘blacklists’ for Russian journalists, Ambassador to Russia Maris Riekstins told TASS when asked about deportation of Anatoly Kurlayev, a reporter with the Russian TV Tsentr television channel, and his wife Olga Kurlayeva, a journalist working for the VGTRK media corporation.
"The man was added to the list of people declared non-grata a couple of years ago, while his wife was engaged in professional activities when having a tourist visa," Riekstins said in an interview with TASS news agency.
The Russian journalists were on holiday in Latvia, but "were simultaneously engaged in professional activities," he said.
"You know Latvia is an open state for our friends, partners, journalists and everyone who wishes to visit Latvia with good intentions," he added. "At the same time, nobody has invalidated the rules endorsed by immigration legislation and which foreigners must comply with when entering Latvia. Moreover, nobody has invalidated the procedure of foreign journalists’ accreditation."
"We have written about this in our reply to the OSCE, explaining that in this situation the issue was not linked formally to the two people’s profession, but was linked to the fact that our immigration legislation had been breached," he pointed out.
In its turn, Latvia has received from Russian government agencies "either recommendations or rules Latvian journalists need to abide by when working in Russia," the ambassador said.
"There have been cases when Latvian journalists were not permitted to do an interview because had not been accredited," he said. "Therefore, we have received a message from Russian counterparts that some Latvian journalists are trespassing in the same way."
When TASS commented that Latvian journalists had never been expelled from Russia for doing so, Riekstins pointed out that "those [Russian] journalists had been put on a blacklist" but refused to elaborate on reasons for Kurlayev’s blacklisting.
"I am not obliged to give you such explanations," he said. "Each sovereign state has the right to blacklist those we believe it necessary. That man was put [on the list] in 2014. He was informed of the reasons."
"He can appeal this at court and fight for his rights," the ambassador concluded.
On January 3, Latvia expelled Anatoly Kurlayev, a journalist working with Russia’s TV Tsentr television channel, whose name had been put on a blacklist of persons declared non-grata and banned from entry to that country for an indefinite period. His wife, Olga Kurlayeva, a journalist from Russia’s VGTRK broadcaster, was detained on January 4. Latvia’s border protection service said she had also been blacklisted as a persona non-grata.
In an interview with the Baltkom radio station, Kurlayev said he had been told he was a threat to Latvia’s statehood. His wife told the Rossiya’24 television channel that she had also been told she was a threat to Latvia’s national security.
On January 5, Olga Kurlayeva was reported to come back to Russia. She posted a comment on vesti.ru that her "deportation might have been triggered by a request from Lithuania" to expel her "as her film ‘The Lady of Lithuania’ was being on again."
The media said that Olga Kurlayeva had travelled to Latvia on a working visa but had been on holiday. After her husband’s deportation, she, having an accreditation and visa and complying with law enforcement agencies’ requirements, began shooting a documentary about anti-Russian sentiment in Latvia.