A journalist of the Ukrainian TV channel «1+1» Yevgeniy Agarkov, involved in covering the court case of a Ukrainian servicewoman, Nadiya Savchenko, was detained in Russia having been charged with carrying out illegal journalistic activities. The court imposed a fine on him and ruled that he should be expelled from the Russian Federation, yet the journalist is still being detained.Despite the fact that the judgment could have been executed on the same day, Yevgeniy Agarkov was kept in custody for another 11 days. This was done deliberately in order to intimidate other Ukrainian journalists. Thus, the Russian party is striving to prevent mass media from providing impartial coverage of the court case of Nadiya Savchenko, who was also illegally arrested earlier by the Russian investigation bodies.
On 18 July, 2014, Yevgeniy Agarkov was detained by Federal Migration Service Directorate (FMSD) officers in Voronezh. The detention took place in a hotel where the TV channel «1+1» journalists Yevgeniy Agarkov and his colleague lived. According to the colleague’s report, three Migration Control officers (she didn’t remember their names) presented at the hotel under the pretext of conducting a personal identity check on the Ukrainian journalists and requested that the journalists went to the Migration Control department with them. The journalist went to another room to telephone the Ukrainian Consul, Gennady Breskalenko in order to find out whether they were indeed required to report to the department. While she was talking to the Consul on the phone, the Migration Control officers detained Yevgeniy Agarkov and took him away.
On the same day, Voronezh Central District Court held a trial, presided over by Judge Viktor Artamonov. Yevgeniy Agarkov was charged with carrying out journalistic activities within the Russian Federation without holding the necessary accreditation. According to the prosecution, Yevgeniy’s offence was that he “video streamed for the Ukrainian TV channel «1+1», information on the Consul’s arrival and on a Ukrainian citizen (Nadiya Savchenko – Ed.) being held captive in the Voronezh detention facility”. The Court found the Ukrainian journalist guilty of the administrative offence under Section 1, Art. 18.10 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (CAO RF), fined him RUB2000 (about €40), and ordered that he be expelled from the Russian Federation.
The court also ruled that Yevgeniy Agarkov shall be held in custody in a special temporary detention facility of the Federal Migration Service Directorate for alien nationals in Voronezh Province (situated approx. 160 km off Voronezh) until the administrative expulsion takes place. It is noteworthy that during the announcement of the court’s decision,Yvgeniy Agarkov stated that he had a return ticket to Ukraine and that he could, upon payment of the imposed fine, leave the territory of the Russian Federation immediately. In response, the judge stated that the decision has already been rendered. The Ukrainian Consul in Russia, Gennady Breskalenko appealed to the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding Yevgeniy Agarkov’s detention, requesting that he be released into the Consul’s responsibility; however, the request was rejected by the Russian Ministry.
The ‘1+1’ TV channel received information in the Federal Migration Service that Yevgeniy Agarkov has 10 days to appeal the court’s decision, and hence, he will not be released before the end of this period.
Russian lawyer,Mark Feygin who defends the Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko, declares that such actions of the Federal Migration Service are illegal as long as the judgement contains no order about the necessity to hold the journalist in the detention facility for any period of time.
On the recommendation of Mark Feygin, on 19 July, 2014, Yevgeniy Agarkov addressed Konstantin Shramov, the head of the Federal Migration Service Directorate in Voronezh Province, as well as the Voronezh Central District Court and the Ukrainian ambassador, with a statement in which he waived his right to appeal the judgement against him and requested that an opportunity to to leave for Ukraine immediately be granted to him.
For 11 days, the Ukrainian journalist was remanded in custody in a special detention centre for foreign nationals in Russia’s Federal Migration Service Directorate for Voronezh Province. Despite the fact that his cell was designed for 6 people, Yevgeniy was kept there alone. This was done in order to exert psychological pressure on the journalist. Immigration Service officer who came to check on Yevgeniy Agarkov during that period, stated openly that Agarkov’s administrative arrest was a planned action of the Russian special services.
On 30 July, 2014, Yevgeniy Agarkov was released and expelled from the Russian Federation. During the crossing of the state border, Russia’s FSB kept him at the checkpoint for almost 2 hours under the pretext of an official control. Now, Yevgeniy Agarkov is banned from entry to the territory of the Russian Federation for a duration of 3 to 5 years.
The Open Dialog Foundation strongly believes that the detention of a Ukrainian journalist is a deliberate act of Russian enforcement authority aimed at preventing mass media from providing impartial coverage of the court case on the Ukrainian servicewoman, Nadiya Savchenko. Thus, the Russian party has clearly demonstrated that carrying out journalistic activities (including investigative journalism) within the Russian Federation results in oppression, even to the extent of imprisonment.
The Open Dialog Foundation condemns the actions of the Federal Migration Service Directorate and the judgement held down by the Russian court against Yevgeniy Agarkov. We urge the OSCE, the UN and European governments to voice public condemnation of such treatment of foreign reporters who are conducting their professional activities on the territory of the Russian Federation.
For more detailed information please contact:
Andriy Osavoliyk– [email protected]
Lyudmyla Kozlovska – [email protected]
Open Dialog Foundation