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RSF: Russian authorities refuse Danish journalist accreditation

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  • Norbert Strade
    PRESS FREEDOM 2 February 2004 RUSSIA Russian authorities refuse Danish journalist accreditation Reporters Without Borders today condemned Russia¹s refusal to
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2004
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      PRESS FREEDOM

      2 February 2004

      RUSSIA

      Russian authorities refuse Danish journalist accreditation


      Reporters Without Borders today condemned Russia¹s refusal to provide
      Vibeke Sperling of the Danish daily Politiken with a work visa and
      accreditation so she can work as her newspaper¹s correspondent in Moscow.

      As the Russian authorities have given no convincing reason for this
      decision, the organisation called on foreign minister Igor Ivanov and
      information minister Mikhail Lesin to reconsider.

      Barring a foreign journalist from working as a correspondent is
      tantamount to censorship, Reporters Without Borders said, adding that it
      suspected that Sperling is being punished for her articles on the war in
      Chechnya and human rights violation in Russia in general.

      Sperling could also be suffering the consequences of the diplomatic
      tension between Denmark and Russia in 2002 over the presence in
      Copenhagen of Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov¹s representative Ahmed
      Zakaiev, who is wanted by the Russian authorities.

      After previously working for many years as a correspondent for the
      Danish press in Moscow, Sperling was due to go back as Politiken's
      correspondent. This is the first time she has ever been denied a work
      visa and permanent accreditation.

      She said she was threatened with expulsion once or twice during the
      Soviet times, but it never materialised. "Even though I sometimes had to
      wait for a long time, I always got a visa when I applied," she said.

      But this time, she said, the press attaché at the Russian consulate in
      Copenhagen commented that some of her articles on Chechnya were "wrong".

      The Russian foreign minister undertook to reconsider this decision, but
      Denmark¹s ambassador to Moscow, Lars Vissing, on 8 January received a
      written reply reiterating the refusal to give Sperling accreditation and
      a visa, again without offering any explanation.



      LIBERTE DE LA PRESSE

      2 février 2004

      RUSSIE

      Les autorités russes refusent d'accréditer une journaliste danoise


      Reporters sans frontières dénonce le refus des autorités russes de
      fournir un visa de travail et une accréditation permanente à Vibeke
      Sperling, correspondante du quotidien danois Politiken à Moscou. Ces
      dernières n'ont donné aucune raison valable pour justifier leur décision.

      L'organisation estime que refuser à un journaliste étranger le droit de
      travailler sur le sol russe équivaut à une censure. Elle craint que la
      journaliste soit "punie" en raison de ses articles sur la guerre en
      Tchétchénie et plus généralement sur les violations des droits de
      l'homme en Russie. Celle-ci pourrait aussi subir les conséquences des
      tensions diplomatiques manifestées entre le Danemark et la Russie en
      2002, en raison de la présence à Copenhague d'Ahmed Zakaiev, le
      représentant du président tchétchène Aslan Maskhadov, recherché par les
      autorités russes. Reporters sans frontières a demandé au ministre des
      Affaires étrangères, Igor Ivanov, et au ministre de l'Information,
      Mikhaïl Lesin, de revenir sur cette décision.


      "Pendant la période soviétique, j'ai été menacée une ou deux fois
      d'expulsion, mais cela ne s'est jamais concrétisé. Même si j'ai parfois
      dû attendre assez longtemps, j'ai toujours obtenu un visa quand j'en ai
      fait la demande", a déclaré la journaliste.


      Le 6 octobre 2003, Vibeke Sperling, qui a travaillé plusieurs années à
      Moscou en tant que correspondante de la presse danoise et qui devait
      s'installer à nouveau en Russie pour le compte du quotidien Politiken,
      a, pour la première fois de sa carrière, essuyé un refus à sa demande de
      visa de travail et d'accréditation permanente. Selon elle, l'attaché de
      presse du consulat de Russie à Copenhague a indiqué que certains de ses
      articles sur la Tchétchénie n'étaient pas "corrects".

      Le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères s'était engagé à reconsidérer
      sa décision mais, le 8 janvier 2004, Lars Vissing, ambassadeur du
      Danemark à Moscou, a reçu une réponse écrite, réitérant le refus
      d'accréditation et de visa de Mme Sperling, toujours sans explications.


      --


      Chercheur ex-URSS - Bureau Europe / Researcher, former Soviet Union
      countries (Europe desk)


      Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
      5, rue Geoffroy Marie
      75009 Paris - France

      tel : (33) 1 44 83 84 65

      fax : (33) 1 45 23 11 51

      E-mail : europe2@...

      Web : www.rsf.org
      Pièce jointe :
      Auteur : RSF Europe - Publié le 2004-02-02
    • mariuslab2002
      Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004. Page 1 The MOscow Times Danish Reporter Denied Russian Visa By Oksana Yablokova Staff Writer A veteran Danish reporter who wrote
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 3, 2004
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        Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004. Page 1 The MOscow Times

        Danish Reporter Denied Russian Visa

        By Oksana Yablokova
        Staff Writer

        A veteran Danish reporter who wrote articles critical of the war in
        Chechnya and human rights violations has been denied a Russian visa.

        Danish Prime Minister Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday
        criticized the decision as worrisome, while media watchdog Reporters
        Without Borders said it was tantamount to censorship.

        Vibeke Sperling, a senior reporter for the respected Politiken daily,
        applied for a single-entry visa to attend an EU conference in St.
        Petersburg last fall. At the same time, she applied to the Russian
        Foreign Ministry for accreditation to work as a reporter in Russia.

        Sperling had recently returned to Politiken from a year-long
        sabbatical teaching media courses at the University of Oslo. The
        newspaper had assigned her to work full-time in Moscow and cover
        December's State Duma elections and the presidential poll in March.

        But when Sperling went to the Russian Embassy in Copenhagen to pick
        up the visa on Oct. 5, she was told that the applications for a visa
        and accreditation had been turned down. An embassy official indicated
        that something was wrong with her reporting but did not elaborate,
        Sperling said Tuesday.

        "I have been traveling as a journalist for 30 years and was
        threatened with being kicked out twice back in the Soviet Union, but
        that never happened, even though I sometimes had to wait for a long
        time to get the visa," Sperling, 59, said by telephone from
        Copenhagen.

        She suggested that her critical coverage of the two Chechen conflicts
        might have upset Russian authorities. "It cannot be anything but
        speculation, but when they do not come out with an explanation we
        cannot see nothing but politics behind the move," she said.

        Politiken editor Toeger Seidenfaden informed the Danish Foreign
        Minister Per Stog of the denial and was told that the "relevant
        authorities would look into the case," Sperling said.

        Danish Ambassador to Russia Lars Vissing appealed to the Russian
        Foreign Ministry and was told he would have to wait two months for a
        reply, Sperling said. In January, the Foreign Ministry upheld the
        denial and said the decision had been personally ordered by Foreign
        Minister Igor Ivanov, she said.

        Six Foreign Ministry officials reached by telephone Tuesday either
        refused to comment about the case or said they had no knowledge of
        the situation.

        A Danish Embassy official confirmed late Tuesday that the ambassador
        had received a written refusal from the Foreign Ministry but could
        not immediately elaborate on the matter.

        Critics of the Kremlin have long accused President Vladimir Putin of
        clamping down on independent-minded news organizations. Several
        foreigners with nongovernmental organizations also have been denied
        visas in the past two years. They include Czech journalist Petra
        Prochazkova, who set up two orphanages in Grozny; Greenpeace activist
        Tobias Munchmeyer of Germany; and Briton Chris Hunter, who organized
        schooling and counseling for Chechen refugee children.

        Politiken itself has previously had trouble getting reporters into
        Russia. Poul Funder Larsen, a former Moscow Times reporter, was
        initially denied a visa and accreditation when Politiken assigned him
        to Moscow in 2002, Sperling said. He later got the visa and worked
        without the accreditation, she said.

        In Copenhagen, the Danish prime minister said Tuesday at a weekly
        news conference that a reporter's right to travel and write critical
        reports about any government is a key part of democracy. "Reporters
        must have freedom to cross borders and reporters must have freedom to
        write critically about any government," Fogh Rasmussen said,
        according to news agency reports. "Countries that want to live up to
        international norms and standards also must be able to endure
        journalists' critical light."

        Reporters Without Borders urged Moscow to reconsider Sperling's
        case. "Barring a foreign journalist from working as a correspondent
        is tantamount to censorship," it said in a statement.

        Sperling said she believes her case may be part of a Kremlin attempt
        to curb criticism and possibly send a warning to other foreign
        journalists. She said the Kremlin under Putin appears to have become
        more sensitive to criticism than it was in Soviet times.

        Sperling first worked in Moscow from 1981 to 1982 with the small
        Danish newspaper Information. She returned in 1993 as a radio
        journalist for the Danish Broadcasting Corp. and lived here for four
        years. She came back to report for Politiken in 2001 and 2002. She
        said she traveled to Chechnya frequently during the first 1994-96 war
        and only visited the region once during the second military campaign -
        - with a Kremlin-organized tour for foreign journalists in 2002.

        Reporters Without Borders, while expressing fears that Sperling was
        being punished for her reports about Chechnya, said she might be the
        victim of diplomatic tensions between Denmark and Russia that sprang
        up after Copenhagen refused to extradite Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed
        Zakayev in 2002.

        But Sperling said she doubts the Zakayev affair has anything to do
        with her difficulties. "I was not working as a journalist at that
        period of time," she said.
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        --- In chechnya-sl@yahoogroups.com, Norbert Strade <nost@p...> wrote:
        > PRESS FREEDOM
        >
        > 2 February 2004
        >
        > RUSSIA
        >
        > Russian authorities refuse Danish journalist accreditation
        >
        >
        > Reporters Without Borders today condemned Russia¹s refusal to
        provide
        > Vibeke Sperling of the Danish daily Politiken with a work visa and
        > accreditation so she can work as her newspaper¹s correspondent in
        Moscow.
        >
        > As the Russian authorities have given no convincing reason for this
        > decision, the organisation called on foreign minister Igor Ivanov
        and
        > information minister Mikhail Lesin to reconsider.
        >
        > Barring a foreign journalist from working as a correspondent is
        > tantamount to censorship, Reporters Without Borders said, adding
        that it
        > suspected that Sperling is being punished for her articles on the
        war in
        > Chechnya and human rights violation in Russia in general.
        >
        > Sperling could also be suffering the consequences of the diplomatic
        > tension between Denmark and Russia in 2002 over the presence in
        > Copenhagen of Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov¹s representative
        Ahmed
        > Zakaiev, who is wanted by the Russian authorities.
        >
        > After previously working for many years as a correspondent for the
        > Danish press in Moscow, Sperling was due to go back as Politiken's
        > correspondent. This is the first time she has ever been denied a
        work
        > visa and permanent accreditation.
        >
        > She said she was threatened with expulsion once or twice during the
        > Soviet times, but it never materialised. "Even though I sometimes
        had to
        > wait for a long time, I always got a visa when I applied," she said.
        >
        > But this time, she said, the press attaché at the Russian consulate
        in
        > Copenhagen commented that some of her articles on Chechnya
        were "wrong".
        >
        > The Russian foreign minister undertook to reconsider this decision,
        but
        > Denmark¹s ambassador to Moscow, Lars Vissing, on 8 January received
        a
        > written reply reiterating the refusal to give Sperling
        accreditation and
        > a visa, again without offering any explanation.
        >
        >
        >
        > LIBERTE DE LA PRESSE
        >
        > 2 février 2004
        >
        > RUSSIE
        >
        > Les autorités russes refusent d'accréditer une journaliste danoise
        >
        >
        > Reporters sans frontières dénonce le refus des autorités russes de
        > fournir un visa de travail et une accréditation permanente à Vibeke
        > Sperling, correspondante du quotidien danois Politiken à Moscou. Ces
        > dernières n'ont donné aucune raison valable pour justifier leur
        décision.
        >
        > L'organisation estime que refuser à un journaliste étranger le
        droit de
        > travailler sur le sol russe équivaut à une censure. Elle craint que
        la
        > journaliste soit "punie" en raison de ses articles sur la guerre en
        > Tchétchénie et plus généralement sur les violations des droits de
        > l'homme en Russie. Celle-ci pourrait aussi subir les conséquences
        des
        > tensions diplomatiques manifestées entre le Danemark et la Russie en
        > 2002, en raison de la présence à Copenhague d'Ahmed Zakaiev, le
        > représentant du président tchétchène Aslan Maskhadov, recherché par
        les
        > autorités russes. Reporters sans frontières a demandé au ministre
        des
        > Affaires étrangères, Igor Ivanov, et au ministre de l'Information,
        > Mikhaïl Lesin, de revenir sur cette décision.
        >
        >
        > "Pendant la période soviétique, j'ai été menacée une ou deux fois
        > d'expulsion, mais cela ne s'est jamais concrétisé. Même si j'ai
        parfois
        > dû attendre assez longtemps, j'ai toujours obtenu un visa quand
        j'en ai
        > fait la demande", a déclaré la journaliste.
        >
        >
        > Le 6 octobre 2003, Vibeke Sperling, qui a travaillé plusieurs
        années à
        > Moscou en tant que correspondante de la presse danoise et qui devait
        > s'installer à nouveau en Russie pour le compte du quotidien
        Politiken,
        > a, pour la première fois de sa carrière, essuyé un refus à sa
        demande de
        > visa de travail et d'accréditation permanente. Selon elle,
        l'attaché de
        > presse du consulat de Russie à Copenhague a indiqué que certains de
        ses
        > articles sur la Tchétchénie n'étaient pas "corrects".
        >
        > Le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères s'était engagé à
        reconsidérer
        > sa décision mais, le 8 janvier 2004, Lars Vissing, ambassadeur du
        > Danemark à Moscou, a reçu une réponse écrite, réitérant le refus
        > d'accréditation et de visa de Mme Sperling, toujours sans
        explications.
        >
        >
        > --
        >
        >
        > Chercheur ex-URSS - Bureau Europe / Researcher, former Soviet Union
        > countries (Europe desk)
        >
        >
        > Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
        > 5, rue Geoffroy Marie
        > 75009 Paris - France
        >
        > tel : (33) 1 44 83 84 65
        >
        > fax : (33) 1 45 23 11 51
        >
        > E-mail : europe2@r...
        >
        > Web : www.rsf.org
        > Pièce jointe :
        > Auteur : RSF Europe - Publié le 2004-02-02
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