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Saturday, December 3, 2016

The reasons for the refusal of visa to Czech journalist remains a mystery


The scandal around the ban on entry in Russia, Czech journalist was forced to comment on the Ministry of foreign Affairs. For ondřej Soukup stood up and his Russian colleagues. The Russian foreign Ministry refers to some obligations to the “partner integration”. But the journalist calls the other version and it is more like the truth.

In connection with Moscow’s refusal to grant a visa to Czech journalist Ondřej Soukup the Russian foreign Ministry has decided to clarify its position on this issue. On Smolensk square called groundless the assumption that this is a response to the refusal of a visa to the Russian journalists. The commentary says that “in accordance with the obligations arising from the participation of our country in a number of integration associations of Russia in the issue of visas also takes into account the opinion of partners.

“The journalist – not the subject of informational confrontation. This is the person with which communicate the nation and the state”

That Soukup denied a visa, first reported by the Czech newspaper “noviny” in which the journalist works.

In the first comment indeed, it was suggested that the failure Soukup was a response to the unfriendly actions of Prague against Russian journalists. Recall that in mid-April, the Czech government repeatedly refused to extend the accreditation freelance correspondent MIA “Russia today” (RIA “Novosti”) Alexander Kuranov, despite the fact that the first refusal, the officials called a misunderstanding. First he was denied a visa in November 2015. At the same time visa extension was denied to the correspondent of “Evening Moscow” Vladimir Snegireva. Then the Russian foreign Ministry expressed the Czech authorities a strong protest.

At the request of Belarus?

Now the Ministry of foreign Affairs, as mentioned above, explained: Soukup refused, on the basis of commitments to partner country Russia at a certain integration. The foreign Ministry did not specify which state is meant.

Ondrej Soukup in the comments of the American “Radio Liberty”, said that countries that are tightly integrated with Russia, he visited only Belarus. According to the journalist, the last time it was little more than a month ago, during a visit to Minsk the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Lubomir Zaoralek. “In Kazakhstan or Armenia I, unfortunately, was not,” added Soukup. The journalist said that he went to Belarus regularly, he didn’t have any problems with obtaining a Belarusian visa or entry into the Republic.

In the entry on his page in Facebook Soukup questioned the fact that the foreign Ministry of Russia took a decision on the request “for his Belarusian ally.” And in fact – anything about any scandals with reference Sokupa in Belarus was not heard, although usually such incidents, the official Minsk lights is very loud.

“Journalists should not be used as the object of information war”

Secretary of the Union of journalists of Russia, Director of the international center for journalists Timur Shafir said that the refusal to issue visas to journalists in the country can carry under a different rationale.

“I can’t explain why, exactly, Ondrej Soukup has not received a visa. Similarly, I can’t explain why it was not renewed the accreditation of our journalist in the Czech Republic Vladimir Snegireva. Cjr spoke directly to the President of the Czech Republic to intervene in the matter. Snegirev known, respected journalist who worked for many years in the Czech Republic,” Shafir told the newspaper VIEW.

He believes that the connection between the denial of visas Kuranova and Snegirevu and Soukup exists only at the level of innuendo. Shafir also urged not to draw Parallels in such situations, otherwise, “begin to incite an unhealthy excitement”.

“Ideally, journalists of any country should not be used as the object of information warfare. The journalist is the eyes, ears, and, pardon me, the language of the community. This is the person with which communicate the nation and the state. Any attempt to deny accreditation to expel the journalist is offensive in the throat of these processes,” he said.

Let us add that, in theory, the rules of accreditation and work of employees of the foreign press in Russia (as well as the denial of the right to such work) must not depend on the immediate political circumstances – because this question is spelled out in the rules, established over 20 years ago.

Waiver rules

The procedure of work of foreign journalists in Russia defines the “Rules of accreditation and stay of correspondents of foreign media on the territory of the Russian Federation” adopted in 1994. The document in particular stipulates: “the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Russia may take retaliatory measures against correspondents of mass media of those countries where there are restrictions against Russian journalists.”

Another reason may be the article 48 of the law on mass media: “the Journalist can be deprived of accreditation if they or editorial office have infringed the accreditation rules or disseminated false information discrediting the honor and dignity of the organization that accredited journalists, which was confirmed by an enforceable judgment”.

In addition, MFA may terminate the accreditation on the basis of articles 19 and 20 under the United Nations International Covenant on civil and political rights. In the 19th article stipulates that freedom of search and distribution of information is bound by limitations: respect for the rights and reputations of others or protection of national security or of public order, health or morals. 20 article prohibits propaganda for war and of national and racial hatred.

“Absolutely adequate”

Soukup “absolutely adequate, objective, unbiased journalist, not a Russophobe, not a “slanderer”, said the writing on his page in Facebook friend the Czech journalist, columnist of the newspaper “Kommersant” Maxim Yusin.

“He has a Russian wife, he adopted a Russian child. His children now rest at the grandmother in Ivanovo region for them Ondra (diminutive of “ondřej” – approx. OPINION) and wanted to go. But don’t go,” says Yusin.

The Russian wife of the journalist Alice writes about how children dream, as they, along with dad go to village to the grandmother”. “The day before the departure of the Russian Embassy announced Ondres that he was denied a visa”, she said.

“Somewhere a fifth of the buried died from poisoning with methyl alcohol”

With regard to the activities Sokupa, he often wrote about Russia and performed in the media with comments about those or other events around the Russian Federation. Sometimes he was making rather bold assumptions that cast doubt on the “absolute objectivity” of the journalist.

For example, in the article on the portal Aktualne.cz about the emergence of a network of “Panama” and the involvement of cellist Sergei Roldugin Soukup expressed confidence that “fraud Roldugin is irrefutable tarnished the reputation of the President of the Russian Federation”. Putin himself has called the emergence of such documents is an injection against himself and his friends, and said that “the authors of the publication “the Panama archive” “got a finger in the sky or in some other place.”

In the middle of June, commenting on the incident with the Russian football fans in Marseilles, Soukup said that the Kremlin allegedly hires Russian football fans to disperse opposition demonstrations and protection of the summer camp of “Nashi” on Seliger.

In addition, he argued that the main military burial Soviet soldiers in the Czech Republic – olšany cemetery – “buried one soldier, who now know that he was killed during the battle for Prague.” “Somewhere a fifth of the buried died from poisoning with methyl alcohol. The second cause was tuberculosis, but then were combat losses. All of the above does not detract from the heroism of the soldiers on the Eastern front were able to stop the Nazis and then take Berlin,” said Soukup.

“How big is the threat to the security of the Czech Republic”

It should be noted that Ondrej Soukup was one of those journalists who first spoke out against the deprivation of accreditation of Russian colleagues Kuranova and Snegirev. Commenting on the website of “Radio Prague” denial of accreditation, Soukup said: the Czech foreign Ministry, denying Kuranova and Snegirevu, was guided by the report of the counterintelligence service – the “security and information” (BIS).

“Both journalists strongly deny any act against Czech interests, or cooperated with the Russian special services. You can trust them or not. It’s just not clear how big a threat to security can be a 75-year-old man, who started to learn Czech just a year ago,” said Soukup. Apparently, a Czech journalist was referring to Vladimir Snegirev (though he is 69, not 75), which really, until recently, worked in the Czech Republic – he was covering the war in Afghanistan, the fighting in the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia, military conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt and several other countries. As for Alexander Kuranova, he since the late 1980s, worked in Prague (then the capital of unified Czechoslovakia).

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