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Russia8 September 2005

Russian authorities refused to renew an accreditation for a Swedish correspondent

Russian authorities refused to renew a working visa and accreditation for Bert Sundström, Moscow correspondent for Swedish public television SVT, forcing him to return to Stockholm on 3 September. Reporters Without Borders has called on the Russian foreign minister to allow Sundström to continue working as a journalist in Russia.

Dear Minister,

We wish to draw your attention to our surprise and deep concern at the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to refuse to grant accreditation and a permanent working visa to journalist Bert Sundström, Moscow correspondent for Swedish public television SVT.

This decision, communicated to the journalist without explanation on 2 September, confirms a worsening crackdown against journalists in Russia. Denying the right to work to a foreign journalist comes to the same thing as censorship.

This is the second case since the start of 2005. After ABC broadcast an interview on 28 July with Chechen rebel leader Chamil Bassaïev, the foreign affairs ministry announced on 2 August that the US channel’s accreditation would not be renewed.

We are convinced that you will respond positively to our request to quickly approve accreditation and a permanent working visa for Bert Sundström, so that he can continue to carry out his professional work in Russia.

We would appreciate if you would keep us informed of the developments in this case.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Ménard

Secretary General

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