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Czech journalist gets Russia ban in apparent tit-for-tat move

 
photo:  (radio.cz)
 

One of the Czech Republic’s best-known experts on Russia, journalist and commentator Ondřej Soukup, has been denied a visa extension by the Moscow authorities. The ban is evidently a tit-for-tat move after Prague denied two Russian reporters fresh accreditation earlier this year on the recommendation of the Czech intelligence service. I discussed the situation with Soukup, who writes for Hospodářské noviny.

 
 

“I was quite surprised because I was never denied a visa and I got tens of them.

“My first reaction was shock. But then I started to make some inquiries and basically I was very unofficially told that it was part of the revenge for not extending journalists visas for the two Russian journalists here in the Czech Republic.

“The irony of the situation is that when this decision was made earlier this year, I was helping them to protest against that move.

“Because [laughs] I was basically afraid that some sort of reprisals would come.

“So I tried to help them and in fact I was the first person who suffered from the reprisals [laughs].”

Is the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs involved in your case?

“Yes, they are aware of the situation and they are taking certain steps.

“They are basically saying that there are means to resolve the situation. So I will hope.”

Generally in the past has it been a simple process to get a visa? Or do you have to fulfil some conditions?

“Of course, but it’s a standard procedure. You tell them when you are going, what kind of topics you are going to work on.

“But in comparison with getting an individual tourist or business visa, it’s quite a simple procedure.”

Have you ever encountered any kind of interference on the part of the Russian authorities in your work?

“Basically, no. There was no obstruction. Even when I was working as a Moscow correspondent, I never encountered any reaction from the Russian authorities.”

Obviously you are very well-known as a specialist on Russia. What does this mean for your career?

“Well, it’s not very plausible but I’m still hoping that these measures are not personal but generally against Czech journalists.

“I at least hope that in some foreseeable future it will be moved. Maybe next year, maybe in a few months. We will see.”

 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 04.08.2016
 
 
 

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