Russian Police Let Off Journalist With Warning (1)

Igor Taro Photo: ERR
3/6/2012 5:20 PM
Category: Politics

ERR correspondent Igor Taro has been let off with a police warning after he was arrested in Russia last week, allegedly for not having accreditation from the Foreign Ministry.

Journalist Igor Taro, who returned home from Russia last week after being arrested and summoned to court, later canceled, in Pskov, received a letter from the Pskov oblast police department on Tuesday.

"Three hours of questioning, a heap of paperwork, a confiscated memory card, a court trial that was canceled - was all this necessary for something ended with a verbal warning?" Taro said, baffled.

The Estonian president and Foreign Ministry have both condemned the incident, in which Taro was arrested on March 1 by Russian authorities while filming campaign ads in Pskov oblast ahead of the presidential elections.

But on Monday, the Russian Embassy in Estonia released a comment on its website, expressing confusion at the Estonian reaction. Estonia, it said, interprets freedom of the press “randomly.”

Upon his arrest, Taro presented his valid journalist visa - which he has previously used on the job on numerous occasions - but police said that, during the election period, special accreditation from the Foreign Ministry was also required.

The embassy statement said the Russian regulation requiring foreign journalists to obtain accreditation from the Foreign Ministry has been around since 1994. Taro, the statement said, was freed and his equipment was returned as a kind gesture.

"The Russian side considers inappropriate and unacceptable the remarks of Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, who, speaking to Estonian radio, said the incident attests to the fact that 'Russia has not reached the point at which the existence of a free press can be spoken of,'" the statement said.


Ott Tammik

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