Monday, 18 August 2008

Two Polish journalists denied entry to Armenia in past six days

I never heard before about the "list of undesirable journalists" allegedly in a circulation within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). Bizarre, to say the least. Armenian Foreign Ministry and government has to respond to this.

Reporters Without Borders calls on Armenia to lift bans on two Polish journalists who have been denied entry in the past six days. The most recent case was that of Wojciech Jagielski, a well-known foreign correspondent working for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, on 14 August. An immigration official said he was on a list of journalists banned throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Jagielski was turned back at the land border between Armenia and Georgia, where he had been covering the war. He had planned to drive from Tbilisi to the Armenian capital of Yerevan in order to get a flight to Warsaw from there. He was forced to return by road to Tbilisi.

He blames the ban on Russia, which did not like the Polish media’s coverage of the war in Georgia. Russia’s ambassador to Warsaw, Vladimir Grinin, accused the Polish media of bias on 16 August.

Reporter Marcin Manon of TVP, the Polish public TV station, was turned back on arriving in Yerevan on 12 August on a flight from Warsaw which the Polish government had chartered to evacuate its citizens from Georgia. He had hoped to continue to Georgia but immigration officials told him he was persona non grata in Armenia and had to return to Warsaw. Manon also blamed the Russian authorities for the ban.

Gazeta Wyborcza told Reporters Without Borders it believes there is a list of undesirable journalists that is used by all the countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Georgia has just pulled out of the CIS, while Ukraine is no longer a full member.

“We urge the Armenian authorities to grant access to all journalists who want to enter the country,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Journalists cannot be held responsible for their government’s policies. They are just independent observers of wars and do not participate in them.”


Haik said...

Just look at the countries at the CIS club.
Not a place for Armenia to belong to.
We are still not as bad as Belarus or Azerbaijan but if things continue like this for another 5 years ( god forbid) Armenia will be.
Sooner to get break the chains of oppression and slavery better.

spm said...

while I do not agree on ban for journalists travel and obstruction of free speech, I must say I am still fuming over the article on Georgian-Russian conflict in the Economist. From the first sight it seems to be objective, does not violate facts. But the bloody British way of distorting the image to once favor without necessarily telling untruth drives me crazy. Whatever did Mr. Saakashvili in the view of respected magazine are mere mistakes. No reference at all that these errors directly resulted in deaths of hundreds of civilians and by essence are act of ethnic cleansing. If anyone was evil it was Zviad Gamsaxurdia, but Misha is a beacon of democracy in Caucasus, being provoked by nasty Russians.
"Mr Saakashvili bears responsibility for mismanaging disputes between
Georgia and the enclaves, pushing them firmly into Russian hands. Yet
his mistakes and follies notwithstanding, Russia?s claim that it was
"enforcing peace" is preposterous. Despite the terrible atrocities
which both South Ossetia and Abkhazia suffered in the early 1990s from
the brutal and nationalist government of the Georgian president, Zviad
Gamsakhurdia, South Ossetians got on with the Georgians much better
than the Abkhaz did. They traded heavily in a smugglers? market (which
Mr Saakashvili shut down in 2004) and lived alongside each other
peaceably." The story goes on accusing Russians of provoking Georgians to attack Tsxinvali and plotting the whole game. They seem completely oblivious of provoking Saddam Hussain to attack Kuwait in the first Gulf war, and invading sovereign country(s) and overthrowing its government on fake, made up accusations. They forget that when Israel invaded Lebanon just a year ago, they assumed it was right thing to do. They forget that every action produces counter-action, a law discovered by fellow British Isaak Newton. I think the blame for the conflict is equally lies with West, principally American politics, as much as Russian. Unless they recognize this, and that the war in Iraq, was not just mistake, but a crime against humanity Russia would feel entitled to do the same. And we, small nations, will have no much choice, but obey one or the other side.

Anonymous said...

Shall we remind our Polish friends about many Armenians who were denied to get a Polish visa in the embassy? Shall we remind about thousands of Armenians who were denied entrance to western countries even though they had educational, business and other invitations? Of course the fact of denial of the Polish journalists is shit, but I am some kind of happy to hear that Armenia can also deny.

Haik said...

the whole question is that it is not Armenia which denies their entry, it is Russia that does. Those journalists had nothing against Armenian people ( till that far). This is a fact that the Armenian boarders are the boarders of the Russian Federation and Armenia is one of the Russian federal republics.

A sad reminder of this is also when a Russian boarder guard checks your passport on the Armenian boarder. I doubt that in the past 15 years we couldn’t recruit & train professional Armenian boarder guards.
They could at least learn a few Armenian standard sentences and not treat us Armenians as if we are flying from Sheremetevo, Moscow.

I suggest you also do what I started doing, just don’t go to the Russian occupied desk even if it is your tern and you should wait for another 10 minutes. Boycott their presence in our airports.

artmika said...

Armenian authorities were quick to deny that the reported incidents with two Polish journalists happened.

Armenia Denies Banning ‘Anti-Russian’ Journalists

By Emil Danielyan (RFE/RL)

Immigration authorities in Yerevan denied on Tuesday reports that two Polish journalists covering the war in neighboring Georgia have been barred from entering Armenia because of being allegedly blacklisted by Russia.

Wojciech Jagielski, a correspondent for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, claims to have been turned back by Armenian border guards while traveling from Tbilisi to Yerevan last Thursday. A Polish news agency quoted Jagielski as saying they told him that his name is on the black list of journalists and other persons banned from entering CIS countries. “I've never written anything about the CIS states,” he said.

The alleged incident occurred two days after the other reporter, Marcin Manon of Poland’s TVP public television, claimed to have been refused entry to Armenia for the same reason. He says he was turned back at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport after disembarking from a plane which the Polish government had chartered to evacuate its citizens from Georgia.

Both reporters blamed Russia for the alleged ban. The Russian ambassador to Warsaw, Vladimir Grinin, accused the Polish media at the weekend of being biased against Russia in its coverage of the military conflict in Georgia.

The journalists’ accounts prompted concern from the Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF). “We urge the Armenian authorities to grant access to all journalists who want to enter the country,” RSF said in a statement issued on Monday. “Journalists cannot be held responsible for their government’s policies. They are just independent observers of wars and do not participate in them.”

However, a source close to Armenia’s border guard service denied the reports, saying that no foreign journalists have been turned away from the country in recent weeks. He also denied the existence of a CIS list of “undesirable” foreigners.

Norayr Muradkhanian, head of the Armenian police’s Department of Passports and Visas, also did not confirm the reported expulsion of the Polish journalists. “I have no such information,” he told RFE/RL.

Observer said...

I think this is highly unlikely.

artmika said...

I wish we will get more clarifications from the Polish side in the light of Armenian denial of the incidents.