The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have called for Russian authorities to ensure that Ukrainian journalist Yevgeny Agarkov is immediately released following his prolonged and disproportionate period in detention.
According to IFJ affiliates the National Union of the Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), Agarkov, a reporter for the “Spetskor,” programme which is broadcast by Ukrainian channel 2+2, was arrested by Russian immigration officials near Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, last Friday, 18 July, for not being accredited with the Russian foreign ministry.
Agarkov is reported to have travelled to Voronezh to cover the case of Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot who is being held for her role in the deaths of Russian journalists Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin.
An administrative court convicted Agarkov of “working illegally as a journalist” and sentenced him to expulsion from Russia and a five-year ban on re-entering the country. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 2,000 roubles (40 euros).
The court said that his expulsion would take effect on 28 July, until which time he was to be detained. He was moved to a detention centre 160km from the city of Voronezh where he still remains in solitary confinement.
“The decision by Russian authorities to detain Yevgeny Agarkov in solitary confinement for this prolonged period is disproportionate,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “His only mistake was to contravene Russia’s administrative code, hardly an act that legitimises such extreme treatment.
“This journalist is not a criminal and we appeal to Russian authorities to release him with immediate effect so he can return home to his family, friends and colleagues.”
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The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries