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IFJ Slams Ukraine Over Expulsion of Russian Journalist

The President of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Philippe Leruth condemned on Tuesday the expulsion by Ukraine of the Russian journalist Zakhar Vinogradov.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — Philippe Leruth told Sputnik that the banning of Zakhar Vinogradov by the Ukrainian authorities was an insidious form of censorship.

"The fact he was not given any explanation makes me think this was a principle decision and not a reaction to any piece he published, and to which Ukrainian authorities had then been able to react. IFJ is pleading for free movement for journalists as well as free access to documents, to allow them to comply freely to their duty to inform," Leruth said.

On Monday, RIA Novosti journalist Zakhar Vinogradov told Sputnik that the Ukrainian authorities did not allow him to enter the country and banned him from entering Ukraine for five years. Vinogradov added that he was forced to leave the Moscow-Odessa train on Monday morning.

"The Ukrainian border service did this. As they just told me, I am prohibited from entering Ukraine for five years. This was a decision of the Ukrainian Security Service [SBU]. The reason behind this decision is not known," the journalist said.

The member of the IFJ Executive Committee Timur Shafir told Sputnik on Tuesday that the journalist's ban on entering Ukraine is another case of violations of media and press freedom by Kiev.

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"A ban on entry into Ukraine for RIA Novosti journalist Zakhar Vinogradov is is another step of the incumbent Ukrainian authorities aimed at eliminating any alternative source of information reporting on what is going on on the territory of the state [Ukraine] for both foreign and Ukrainian audiences," Shafir said.

Shafir added that the Ukrainian authorities are likely continue to tolerate the violations of the rights of journalists.

"Most unfortunately, we can assume that such violations of the rights of our colleagues will continue, which means that the violations of the right of Ukrainian and Russian citizens to receive objective information will continue as well," Shafir added.

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Meantime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed hope that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations would react to multiple Russian requests concerning violations of journalists' rights in Ukraine.

"Concerning the attitude of current Ukrainian authorities toward journalists — one can bring a big number of negative examples. It is not only about denying entry for journalists from Russia or Spain… There are much more serious [violations] including murders of journalists that have not been investigated yet. We really hope that our urgent requests to the corresponding international bodies will have an effect… I am also speaking about the OSCE, which has its own representative on freedom of the media," Lavrov said Tuesday at a press briefing in Moscow.

Kiev has repeatedly imposed restrictions on the work of Russian journalists in the country, in particular, by preventing Russian media workers from entering the country. In March 2015, Kiev suspended the accreditation of 115 Russian information media with the Ukrainian authorities, prior to which the broadcasting of major Russian TV channels was prohibited in Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry has called this step an attack on media freedom.

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