EFJ Condemns Non-Admission Of Russian Journalists To Court Session In Lithuania

EFJ Condemns Non-Admission of Russian Journalists to Court Session in Lithuania

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez condemned on Wednesday the ban for Russian reporters from a court hearing on the 1991 Vilnius events in a Lithuanian court, urging the country's authorities to respect international obligations in the field of media freedom

BRUSSELS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 27th March, 2019) European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) General Secretary Ricardo Gutierrez condemned on Wednesday the ban for Russian reporters from a court hearing on the 1991 Vilnius events in a Lithuanian court, urging the country's authorities to respect international obligations in the field of media freedom.

On Wednesday, the Vilnius District Court delivered the first verdicts in the case of the events of 1991. Approximately 10 employees of the Russian media, including Channel One, RT, RIA Novosti, Izvestia and Channel 5, were asked to fill out a questionnaire at the entrance to the courthouse, asking for their first and last name, passport details, and which electronic devices they planned to use in a court. The reporters filled in questionnaires, but were denied access to the building without any reason. At the same time, the court's website states that journalists need accreditation to cover a hearing only if they are going to take photos and videos.

"The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns banning of journalists as a measure of political affairs in any country. Journalists should be ensured the freedom of expression as well as the freedom of movement to safely fulfill their responsibilities" Gutierrez told Sputnik.

According to EFJ chief, such measures are excessive, especially due to the lack of transparency.

"We call on public authorities to refrain from imposing unnecessary limitations on the work of foreign journalists, which affect the free flow of information and violate international commitments on freedom of the media," he said.

He noted that it was not the first time when the federation had confronted incidents involving journalists working for the Russian media, recalling similar incidents in Ukraine, Estonia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, as well as within Russia.

The authorities of the Baltic states have been repeatedly hindering the work of the Russian media. In April 2014, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry refused to accredit RIA Novosti correspondent Irina Pavlova without explaining the reasons. In October 2015, the Estonian authorities detained a crew of All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) correspondent Nikolai Vasilyev at the Koidula checkpoint. In March 2016, the Lithuanian authorities expelled a crew of VGTRK correspondent Pavel Zarubin.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that these incidents represent a coordinated line of the Baltic countries. The cases of media oppression in the Baltic states "clearly show" that the claims of Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius about their commitments to the principles of democracy and free speech are "demagogy."

Your Thoughts and Comments