The secretary-general of Europe’s largest journalists’ organization has described the refusal to allow Russian journalists to cover the upcoming informal meeting of EU foreign ministers as an attack on media freedom.
“This is indeed a serious attack on media freedom,” RIA Novosti quoted the head of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Ricardo Gutierrez, as saying on Friday.
“The EFJ and the IFJ just decided to submit an alert on the case to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism. That means in practice that the secretary-general of the Council of Europe will ask the Estonian government to give explanations regarding the case,” he added.
The comment was preceded by the decision of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union to refuse accreditation to three reporters from the Rossiya Segodnya international information agency who wanted to cover the informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers, which is scheduled to take place in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, on September 7-8.
The Estonian Presidency of the EU Council has not explained this refusal in any way.
Rossiya Segodnya Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan thanked the EFJ secretary-general for support.
“Thank you Mr. Gutierrez for the fact that you, despite facing the risk of being called an ‘unfashionable person’ still intervened and protected the freedom of European speech,” Simonyan wrote on her Facebook page.
Also on Friday, the European Federation of Journalists attached the “second level of threat to media freedom” to the Estonian refusal to accredit Russian reporters at the EU event.
This is not the first time the Estonian authorities obstructed the work of Russian reporters. In April this year, two journalists working for Russian TV channel REN-TV were turned back by border guards at Tallinn Airport under an excuse that they did not have papers confirming the goal of their visit.
In October 2015, Estonians detained and deported a crew of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Corporation and in September 2015, Estonia refused accreditation and entry to a reporter representing the Rossiya Segodnya agency, also without giving a reason for doing so.