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'Something To Hide?' CPJ Urges Russia To Allow Journalists To Travel Freely To Crimea


Taras Ibrahimov (file photo)

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Russia to immediately lift a ban imposed on Ukrainian journalist Taras Ibrahimov and allow him to freely report in Ukraine’s Russia-occupied region of Crimea.

Earlier this month, officers of the Russian Federal Security Service denied Ibrahimov, who works with the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, entry to the Crimean Peninsula and gave him a written notice saying he was barred from entering Russia until 2054.

Authorities in Crimea "seem intent on importing Russia’s harsh attitude toward the press” into the region, said Gulnoza Said, Europe and Central Asia program coordinator at the CPJ.

She said Ibrahimov and other journalists “should be free to travel to Crimea to report on the situation there. If they are not, we can only assume Russia has something to hide.”

Ibrahimov has said he believed the travel ban was “connected with my journalism and my work for publications that actively cover the cases of Crimean Tatars in Crimea and in Russia."

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they describe as a campaign of repression by the Russian-imposed authorities against Crimean Tatars and others who have spoken out against Moscow's military seizure and occupation of Crimea in 2014.

Ibrahimov is not the first Ukrainian journalist to be handed a long-term travel ban by the Russian authorities. Since 2018, Russian authorities have banned a Ukrainian photographer and a Ukrainian journalist who also worked with the Crimea Desk of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service from entering Crimea and Russia until 2028.

In a statement on January 21, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Russia of trying to “choke the flow of information about their crackdown on Crimean Tatar activists and other abuses” in Crimea by barring independent journalists from traveling there.

Meanwhile, OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir called on “those responsible to respect the role of media actors and to allow journalists to travel without restrictions to carry out their work.”

In its annual global report on freedom of religion in 2019, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that "Russian authorities continued to kidnap, torture, and imprison Crimean Tatar Muslims at will" in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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