Russia - Chechnya19 August 2002
State television journalists’ equipment confiscated by Russian armed forces
Russian soldiers confiscated the accreditation and equipment belonging to journalists from the public television channels ORT and TV Tsenter on 16 August, as they were interviewing Chechens fleeing their village. The reason given was that the reporters were not accompanied by a Russian army representative. Reporters Without Borders has protested against the restrictions on freedom of information concerning the conflict in Chechnya, which have been official since 1 October 1999 when journalists were banned from circulating freely in the area.
"Once again, the Russian authorities have demonstrated quite clearly - by hindering journalists from doing their job - that they have something to hide concerning what is going on in Chechnya. Even reporters working for the Russian state media are obliged to negotiate the almost total blackout imposed by the Army in order to work normally, not to mention those working for the independent or foreign press, who have not had access to the region for a long time," stated Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders. "We once again condemn this censorship in the strongest terms and demand that journalists be allowed to cover the war in Chechnya without being subject to a myriad of administrative difficulties or being interrogated on the ground," added Mr Ménard.