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Poroshenko Orders Removal Of BBC Journalists From Sanctions List

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered the country's Security Council to remove three BBC journalists from a new sanctions list.

The announcement was made on September 17 in a post on Twitter by presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tseholko.

"Freedom of the press is of absolute value to me," Tseholko quoted Poroshenko as saying in the post.

The three were among about a dozen journalists included on a sanctions list signed by Poroshenko late on September 16 after separatist rebels in the east set a date for what Kyiv sees as “illegal elections.”

The fate of the other journalists is unclear.

The decision to include journalists was criticized by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists among others.

"While the government may not like or agree with the coverage, labeling journalists a potential threat to national security is not an appropriate response," said the committee's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Nina Ognianova.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said such action is "not the way to ensure security."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condemned the move as “totally unacceptable.”

The Russian news agency TASS described the decision to blacklist three of its reporters, one based in Washington, one in South Africa and one in Moscow, as "odd" since two of the three journalists do not cover Ukraine.

Based on reporting by Interfax, dpa, and Reuters