MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. A Russia-based journalist for the Italian state television broadcaster RAI, Marc Innaro, who was refused entry to Ukraine to cover the presidential elections planned in particular to interview incumbent President Pyotr Poroshenko.
As Innaro said in an interview with TASS, last night the border control service at the Boryspil International Airport in Kiev barred him from entering the country on the pretext that he allegedly "was unable to clearly explain the purpose of visit to Ukraine."
I said that the Central Election Committee would give us accreditation in Kiev. We had already organized an interview with [the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Sviatoslav] Shevchuk. We even showed the response from Poroshenko’s press service that they had received our request for an interview, and would surely respond and do everything possible to organize an interview," Innaro said. "And they tell us that we haven’t provided a clear reason for our visit."
According to the journalist, Italian diplomats are ready to respond to the Ukrainian border control service’s actions. "They [Italian Foreign Ministry] are writing a protest. I talked to Italian Ambassador to Ukraine Davide La Cecilia and the Italian consul who told me that they had already delivered first demarche to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. The Italian National Press Federation will deliver such a demarche to our Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte," Innaro said.
He pointed out that over the course of his career he had never faced a situation similar to what happened at the Ukrainian border.
Earlier, Vice President of the Italian Entrepreneurs in Russia Association, Italian Honorary Consul in Lipetsk, Vittorio Torrembini told TASS about the ban on Italian journalist Marc Innaro to enter Ukraine. He described Innaro as a reserved and tactful person that had never had any problems with Ukraine and pointed out that this incident showcases the state of affairs in the country.
This is not the first time an EU journalist has been refused entry to Ukraine to cover the presidential elections. On March 7, Ukraine barred Christian Wehrschutz, head of the ORF office in Kiev, from entering the country for one year. Kiev accused the journalist of illegally crossing the state border, of justifying Crimea’s reunification with Russia and of anti-Ukraine propaganda. In response, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl accused Ukraine of censorship and, lambasting Kiev’s decision, urged it to lift the entry ban.
The Ukrainian presidential elections are scheduled for March 31, with 39 candidates contesting the presidency.