“Increasing restriction of media freedom”. As an Austrian journalist recorded in the “enemies of Ukraine”
The correspondent of the ORF channel, Christian Verschyutts, was called the “agent of the Kremlin” and was denied accreditation in the Donbas. The Austrian Foreign Ministry is outraged and calls the Ukrainian ambassador.
The international scandal is gaining momentum due to the inclusion of the famous Austrian journalist, 57-year-old Christian Verschutz in the list of enemies and “pro-Russian propagandists” in Ukraine.
Verschyutts, recognized in Austria as a journalist of the year in 2014, a long-term special correspondent in the Balkans, has been heading the bureau of the largest Austrian television channel ORF in Kiev since 2015.
The Austrian journalist covered the conflict in the Donbass from its very beginning, in particular, he talked a lot about humanitarian topics, and also made a series of reports from the Crimea, in which, in particular, he spoke with the Crimean Tatar organizations – both pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian; bridge.
He also twice interviewed Igor Guzhva, editor-in-chief of the Internet newspaper Strana, who was granted asylum in Austria in October of this year.
Verschyutts has now entered the database of “Kremlin agents” called “Posipaka” (“henchman”). This site is similar to the notorious “Peacemaker”. Posipak is supported by the Center for Army Studies, Conversion and Disarmament.
The director of this center is journalist Valentin Badrak himself, who is a member of the public council attached to the SBU.
“Ultranationalists threaten reporters for criticizing authorities”
Unlike the Peacemaker, this site is just a “board of shame,” he does not disclose personal data.
Nevertheless, the Austrian journalist fears for his life, because such lists are considered “firing” (the reporter mentions the murder of Oles Buzin, who got into the base of “Peacemaker”).
Verschutz turned to the Austrian government for help.
“There are militarized, ultra-nationalist groups in Ukraine that threaten journalists who critically highlight the policy of Ukraine’s leadership. Two journalists have already been killed, I don’t want to be next,” Verschyutts wrote in his address (under the second journalist they meant Pavel Sheremet, radio host “Vesti”, which was blown up in the car in the summer of 2016).
According to him, “the EU countries and the USA know about it, but they are silent.” Verschutz asked the Austrian authorities to obtain the removal of an entry about himself on the Posipak-Kremlin Agent portal.
The scandal responded to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, accusing Ukraine of obstructing the work of a journalist in the conflict zone.
“The increasing restriction of media freedom in Ukraine is unacceptable. With great concern, I am watching the conditions in which Ukrainian and international media operate. The use of violence and threats against journalists must be punished. Both the Austrian embassy in Kiev and the Foreign Ministry in Vienna are all levels are working to ensure that the Ukrainian authorities give the required accreditation to journalists, “said Karin Kneisl, head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry and called for January 8 to explain the Ukrainian ambassador.
Colleagues speak of Verschyutz as an experienced journalist who covered conflicts in post-war ex-Yugoslavia after 1999. They say: it is difficult to suspect him of sympathy for Moscow. He has repeatedly been extremely critical of Russian politics in Ukraine.
By the way, Verschyutts refused requests for interviews of two major Russian TV channels.
“I don’t want to give Russia ammunition against Ukraine,” the journalist told Country.
By the way, the same site Posipak added to the lists of one of the editors of the American online publication War Is Boring, writing on military topics. The publication was declared “pro-Russian,” although there are quite a few critical publications about the Russian armed forces.
Report from the Crimea and interviews with the chief editor of “Countries”
Colleagues Verschyuttsya believe that he was included in the list of “enemies” not only for the Crimean reports, but also for the objective coverage of events in the Donbas. Verschyutts also interviewed Igor Guzhva, the editor-in-chief of our publication Country, who was granted asylum in Austria in October because of the fabrication of criminal cases and threats of physical violence in Ukraine.
Verschutz does not exclude that an interview with an opposition journalist also influenced his appearance on the list, which is tacitly supervised by the authorities.
The authors of “Posipak” call the inclusion of Verschyutts in the list allegedly pro-Russian coverage of the Crimean theme and his repost on a personal Facebook page of news from Russian sites.
“At the end of July 2018, he made public his report on the visit to the annexed Crimea, in which he claimed about” the Russian Federation’s success in building the airport in Simferopol and the construction of the Crimean Bridge “(note that the Crimean Bridge was already really built, as well as the new terminal at the airport of Simferopol – Approx. Red.). The publication also contains fragments of interviews with the so-called “Minister of Tourism” of the Crimea, as well as local businessmen, claiming “significant progress in the development of the peninsula since its voluntary joining the Russian Federation, as well as gradually overcoming the international isolation of Crimea. ”Another report dealt with“ improving the life of the Crimean Tatar people in the peninsula. ”At the beginning of the video, the author tried to portray pro-Ukrainian Crimean Tatar activists as scattered marginalized individuals: against the background of which the collaboration movement“ Crimean Unity ”is represented highly educated and cultural. At the same time, a statement was made by one of the representatives of the movement, who asserted that “only Vladimir Putin completely rehabilitated the Tatars. And it was under Russia that the construction of the main mosque became possible, since the Ukrainian authorities did not issue either building land or building permits, “wrote Verschyutts’s opponents.
“Martial law related to the election campaign”
The journalist himself in a conversation with the “Country” denied all allegations.
“I, as it should be, showed all parties in Crimea, all points of view, weighed and unbiased reporting, I did not give my assessments. I spoke with the lawyer of the Crimean Tatars, who represent the Crimean Tatar activists who are in prisons. Also I spoke with the Crimean Tatar organizations cooperating with Russian institutions. Of course, I wrote there, and I think that it’s true that in the last five years Russia has invested more money in the development of the Crimea than Ukraine has in 25 years. And this is a fact. As for Donbass, is natural but, according to international journalistic standards, I’m not talking about “terrorists,” “occupiers,” but using the term “pro-Russian rebels.” But apparently, someone does not like it, ”Verschyutts told us.
Authorities might not like some more observations of a foreign journalist while working in the Donbas.
“I wrote that the blockade of the Crimea and the Donbass is bad for the local population. In addition, Ukraine now buys its coal through Russia for currency, and before the blockade bought it in Donetsk and Lugansk for hryvnya,” the Austrian told reporter.
Also in his reports, Verschutz spoke about problems with freedom of speech in Ukraine. In addition to interviews with Igor Guzhva, the program included comments from representatives of channel 112, against which the authorities want to impose sanctions, the English-language newspaper Kyiv Post, which was threatened with closure due to language law, Freedom House (a US-funded non-governmental organization supporting freedom of speech).
“Those journalists who talk about problems in the country, about the real policy of the authorities, are often written down as“ enemies of the people ”,“ pro-Russian agents. ”In a word,“ bad people. ”The wording“ Agent of the Kremlin ”is a potential threat from radical groups. also because our employees (operator and driver) had an unpleasant situation during the filming of the march of the world, when they were called pro-Russian media, etc., but then the police intervened and everything worked out, ”says“ The Country ”Verschyutts.
The Ukrainian authorities could not like Verschyutts’s statement about the imposition of martial law in Ukraine.
“I said that this is due to the election campaign,” says Verschütz.
In general, the journalist considers the current relations between Ukraine and Austria “not the best”. In particular, due to the fact that a significant part of Austrian politicians advocate a dialogue with Moscow and reconciliation in the Donbas.
“Austria has always been in favor of finding a solution to the conflict in the Donbass through negotiations,” Verschutz explains.
Foreign journalists are not allowed in the ATO
Shortly before the introduction of Verschyutts’s “agents of the Kremlin” into the base, they were deprived of accreditation to the EP zone (it was not renewed) without explanation, although he had previously received a card, albeit with bureaucratic delays.
For four months, ORF beat out re-accreditation for front-line regions for members of the Versciutz team – the operator and producer, they were also refused.
Previously, the ORF team also waited a long time for permission to shoot in the port of Mariupol – in February 2018, the journalists were denied, but in November 2018 they were allowed, which allowed the Austrians to make a broadcast about the situation in the Sea of Azov (then Verchiyets was accredited to work in environmental protection).
“Now, in the event of hostilities or clashes in the Sea of Azov, we cannot do this, due to the lack of accreditation,” the journalist complains.
By the way, other foreign journalists faced the same problem. If earlier accreditations were issued for a couple of days, then more recently, after organizational changes (transformation of the ATO into environmental protection), this process is delayed indefinitely, journalists are playing football.
Representatives of foreign media suspect that in this way the Ukrainian authorities impede coverage of events in the combat area in the Donbas.
Another journalist, a correspondent of the German weekly Zeit Herwig Heller also complained to Facebook about the red tape with accreditations.
“For some reason, everything has become more difficult since accreditation was transferred to the EP (Operation of the combined forces – Approx. Red.), But the leading function of the SBU is still there,” writes Heller.
“Because now the General Staff is responsible for journalists in DUS. And there it is precisely those cadres who told me in the summer of 2014 (before MN17, just when the Russian equipment started to come in massively from the Russian Federation) that foreign journalists have nothing to do in the occupied territories. In Mariupol, foreign groups are waiting for two weeks for the usual checkpoint to pass through. And this is already 4 complaints from foreign media that I have heard in the last month. Apparently this is how people in DUS understand the task of improving work with the foreign press, “says media expert Tatyana Popova, ex-deputy Itel Minister of Information Policy.
Information taken from: https://strana.ua/articles/179071-pochemu-avstrijskoho-zhurnalista-zapisali-v-ahenty-kremlja.html