The Austrian journalist Christian Wehrschütz was banned from entering Ukraine before the elections

The Austrian journalist Christian Wehrschütz was banned from entering Ukraine before the elections

Ukraine has banned the Austrian “ORF” journalist Christian Wehrschütz from entering Ukraine for "security reasons". The reason for the issuance of the 1-year ban is the threat he posed to national security.

This information was confirmed by the SBU, which stated that the main reason for the ban, according to the SBU, is the need to ensure the safety of the journalist. "Recall that Christian Wehrschütz reported in an interview about his life being in danger in Ukraine. In order to avoid possible provocations during the stay of the Austrian journalist in our country, the SBU in accordance with legislation decided to ban him from entering," it is said in the statement made by the SBU on Facebook.

Wehrschütz was recognized in Austria as journalist of the year in 2014, has been a special correspondent in the Balkans for many years, and since 2015 he has headed the Kiev bureau of the biggest Austrian TV channel “ORF”. The Austrian journalist has covered the conflict in Donbass from the very beginning, in particular talking a lot about humanitarian topics, and also made a series of reports from Crimea, in which he, in particular, talked to Crimean Tatar organizations - both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian ones - and visited the Crimean bridge.

At the end of December 2018 Wehrschütz appeared in the database of "agents of the Kremlin" called "Posipaka" ("henchman"). This is a website that is similar to the notorious "Mirotvorets". "Posipaka" is supported by the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament. The Director of this Center - the former journalist Valentin Badrak - is a member of the Public Council of the Security Service.

The journalist learned about his ban on visiting Ukraine while in Austria. His ban has already been confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria, where a notice came from Kiev. The journalist says that the decision of the SBU was unexpected for him. Recently, his crew has received accreditation for the area of the Operation of United Forces. His residence permit in Ukraine is valid until July of this year. Wehrschütz had planned to interview the presidential candidates Yuliya Tymoshenko and Vladimir Zelensky.

The European Union called on the Ukrainian authorities to refrain from imposing any unnecessary restrictions on the free flow of information and freedom of the media. "We expect that any such decisions will include careful consideration of the right to freedom of speech. We also expect that the Ukrainian authorities will refrain from imposing any unnecessary restrictions on the free flow of information and media freedom," said the EU Press Secretary. "The protection of national security and citizens must be carried out in full compliance with fundamental rights and freedoms, including the European Convention on Human Rights," he stressed.

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir, called on the Ukrainian authorities to let the journalist of the Austrian public broadcasting agency “ORF” Christian Wehrschütz enter Ukraine. "The refusal to grant Wehrschütz entry, as would be the case with any other journalist, would substantially harm freedom of the media. I call on the authorities to cancel their decision and refrain from placing obstacles in front of his access to the country for the legitimate exercise of his professional activity," said Desir.

As was reported by "Uspishna Varta" in its monitoring of the observance of political and civil rights in Ukraine in 2018, despite the calls of the OSCE and other international organizations, the practice of deporting and denying foreign journalists entrance into Ukraine continued in 2018. As was reported by the Security Service of Ukraine at the end of 2018, the department banned 83 "Russian propagandists" from entering Ukraine. Among them - the Russia Today correspondent Paula Slier, the Russian TV presenter and representative of the Union of Journalists of Russia Evgeny Primakov, the British journalist John Warren, and others. "Uspishna Varta" has repeatedly called on the Ukrainian authorities to abandon the practice of deporting foreign journalists from Ukraine and banning them from re-entering, using as regulation the decisions of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine and the implementation by the SBU, which is a violation of Ukraine's international obligations in the field of human rights.

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