Russian journalists kept from entering the country (5)
Estonian authorities kept journalists of Russian TV channels NTV and Life channels from entering the country on Thursday. The journalists had been invited by the Tallinn city government.
“Correspondent Alexey Kobylkov and cameraman Ilya Kondratiev were removed from the bus at the Ivangorod border crossing point,” NTV said on its web page on Thursday. Employees of the TV channel were headed for a four-day press tour at the invitation of the Tallinn city government, the channel added.
The journalists were to go sightseeing in Tallinn, and visit the Art Museum of Estonia as well as the Estonian National Museum. They were also scheduled to meet with Tallinn Deputy Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart.
Kobylkov said in a message posted on NTV’s website that although they were planning to visit Estonia in the context of a tourist trip and not planning to work, the Estonian authorities hadn’t believed them and kept them from entering the country.
“All our attempts to explain that we didn’t intend to work, and that it was a regular tourist visa that we had received at the invitation of Tallinn city officials, led nowhere,” Kobylkov said.
According to Kobylkov, they couldn’t have been kept out for an official reason. He said that the Tallinn city government had organized the visit, and that similar visits took place regularly to support the reputation of the Estonian capital as a historical and cultural center.
The same thing happened to the crew of Russian television channel Life, who were in the same group as the NTV journalists.
“It seemed we would be allowed to enter the country, but later we were asked to exit [the bus]. Our documents were taken away without any explanations,” correspondent at Life, Olga Pritykina, said in a message posted on the television channel’s website.
Pritykina said that an employee of the Russian consulate who was present said that such trips had been organized for five years, but that no such thing had happened before. “NTV colleagues have been visiting Estonia with tourist visas already since 2003, and there have been no problems,” Pritykina added.
Life said on its website that reporters of print publications that were in the same group were allowed to enter the country.
Spokesman of the Tallinn city government, Leo Vaino, told Interfax that according to a city government official who was supposed to welcome the Russian journalists, they had tourist visas, but had also brought cameras. Therefore border guards concluded that their intention was to work in Estonia. According to Vaino, officials of the Russian consulate in Narva are dealing with the issue, and it is possible that the journalists will be allowed to enter the country.