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Media Watchdog Concerned About Russian Journalists

New York, 3 September 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S.-based media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says it is alarmed by reports that two Russian journalists may have been prevented from traveling to southern Russia to cover the school-hostage crisis.

The CPJ said in a statement it was concerned by reports journalist Anna Politkovskaya was poisoned while en route to the hostage crisis in North Ossetia. Reports said Politkovskaya felt sick after flying to the city of Rostov-na-Donu. Doctors later found she was poisoned but said further tests were needed to determine the type of poison.

CPJ also expressed concern over the detention on 2 September of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Andrei Babitsky. Babitsky was stopped at a Moscow airport before he could board a flight to the southern Russian city of Mineralnye Vody. He was later accused of "hooliganism" and sentenced to five days confinement. He has denied the charges.

Four years ago, Babitsky was abducted by Russian security officials and held for 40 days. Authorities detained him in an apparent effort to prevent him from reporting on the war in Chechnya.

(RFE/RL's Russian Service)

Click here to see an RFE/RL press release condemning Babitsky's arrest.