Ukraine expels three foreign journalists in past week

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Ukrainian authorities to end their vetting of the foreign media after they detained and expelled three foreign reporters – one Russian and two Spanish – without any judicial proceedings in the past week.

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“Arresting and expelling journalists is not a good response to the information war, especially in the absence of a detailed explanation and without an appeal mechanism,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“No matter how questionable some reporting may be, there is no justification for such media freedom violations, which furthermore just provide the Russian propaganda machine with ammunition.”

The latest victim was Anna Kurbatova, a reporter for the partially state-owned Russian TV channel Pervy Kanal, who was arrested in Kiev yesterday.

Olena Gitlyanska, a spokesperson for the State Security Service (SBU), announced a few hours later that Kurbatova had been deported and banned from returning to Ukraine for three years for “harming national interests.” She added: “Anyone who dares to defame Ukraine will suffer the same fate.”

In her latest report, about Ukraine’s independence day celebrations, Kurbatova suggested that Ukraine was now heavily dependent on the West and that everything had been going downhill since the Maidan revolution in 2014.

Spanish journalists Antonio Pampliega and Manuel Ángel Sastre were expelled on 25 August after being detained on arrival at Kiev international airport and held there for 20 hours.

The SBU said they had been banned from entering Ukraine for three years because of their coverage of the fighting in the east of the country, in particular their claims that Ukrainian government forces had shelled civilians.

Pampliega and Sastre were previously on a list of personae non gratae issued by the government in 2015, but had been removed from the list as a result of civil society pressure.

Ukraine is ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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Updated on 01.09.2017