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Armenia18 August 2008

Two Polish journalists denied entry to Armenia in past six days

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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.”

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