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OSCE Calls On Estonia To Reconsider Ban On Three Russian Reporters

Harlem Desir (L) with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 when he was a French state secretary

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on August 30 called on Estonia to reverse its decision to bar three Russian journalists from covering an EU meeting in Tallinn next month.

"I urge Estonia to reconsider denied accreditation," Harlem Desir, the organization's freedom of media representative, said on Twitter.

Estonia said it barred the reporters from the European Union foreign ministers meeting on September 7 because their news outlet was "promoting hostile, subversive activities and propaganda under the cover of press freedom," Estonia's EU office told the EUobserver on August 29.

TASS said the barred reporters are from the Russia Today news agency, but the EUobserver said they were from Rossia Segodnya, a firm that owns the Sputnik online site, which it said was "notorious" for posting "bogus anti-Western content."

Sputnik has been called a “pseudo news agency” by the European Parliament and “an enemy of journalism” by Reporters Without Borders, but the European Federation of Journalists has defended the outlet's right to cover events, the EUobserver said.

The European journalist association's head, Ricardo Gutierrez, accused Estonia of a "serious attack on media freedom," the EUobserver said.

TASS reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry also said it was "astonished" by Estonia's move.

With reporting by and TASS