The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern and criticism for the actions of Ukrainian authorities and their practice of expelling foreign journalists.
On 30 August, the Russian Pervy Kanal (Channel One) reported that journalist Anna Kurbatova had been kidnapped in the center of Kiev by unknown persons who pushed her into a vehicle and took her away. It was soon revealed that Kurbatova was taken by members of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). She was then expelled from the country for “disgracing Ukraine”. The Channel One journalist is now banned from entering the country for the period of three years.
Spanish journalists Antonio Pampliega and Manuel Angel Sastre were barred from entering Ukraine on 25 August at Kiev’s airport Zhuliany . The two were detained for 20 hours before being forbidden from entering “due to their activity that is contrary to the interests of Ukraine”. Pampliega and Sastre were accused of reportedly producing stories alleging that Ukrainian troops had shelled civilian areas, a claim which Ukraine states is untrue.
On 14 August, special correspondent for the Russian state broadcaster VGTRK Tamara Nerseyan was detained in Kiev. According to the journalist, she was taken to the SBU headquarters and interrogated for three hours. Nerseyan was then told she was being expelled from Ukraine and banned from the country for three years because of her reporting which security officials told her “inflamed the conflicts in eastern Ukraine”.
“SEEMO harshly condemns all steps against freedom of reporting by Ukrainian authorities. Expelling journalists from the country or denying them entry to Ukraine are against freedom of movement and freedom of speech” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated today. “It is unacceptable for a country to deem any reporting coming from outside. Deportation of journalists from a country restricts freedom of the press and is not acceptable. We call on the Ukrainian state authorities, including Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and all other institutions involved in journalist expulsion to revert their decisions and allow media workers, local and international, to perform their work freely” Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.