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Ukraine Expels Russian State TV Journalist Despite OSCE Condemnation


Russian First Channel correspondent Anna Kurbatova (file photo)

Ukrainian authorities say they have expelled a Russian state TV journalist, despite condemnation from Russia and a pan-European security organization.

In a Facebook post late on August 30, Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) spokeswoman Olena Hitlyanska said Russian First Channel correspondent Anna Kurbatova had been sent back to Russia and banned from entering Ukraine for three years.

"Russian propagandist Anna Kurbatova, whose forcible expulsion has been decided, has crossed the Ukrainian-Russian border," Hitlyanska said. "She has been banned from entering our state for three years."

When contacted by the media earlier, Hitlyanska had declined to answer questions about whether and how Kurbatova had been detained.

The same thing will happen to "anyone who allows themselves to discredit Ukraine," she wrote on Facebook.

After arriving back in Russia, Kurbatova told Russian news agencies that the SBU had given her an official document saying she "poses a threat to Ukraine's national security and sovereignty" because she has described the conflict in eastern Ukraine in her stories as a "civil war" rather than a "Russian aggression."

First Channel said Kurbatova had previously received threats from people who did not like her reports.

Kyiv's treatment of Kurbatova was condemned on August 30 by an official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors the conflict in eastern Ukraine and counts both Ukraine and Russia as members.

"I call on #Ukraine not to arrest & deport journalists from other OSCE States #AnnaKurbatova," Harlem Desir, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, wrote on Twitter.

The Russian TASS news agency reported that Mikhail Fedotov, the chairman of Russia's presidential council for civic society and human rights, said Ukraine should follow the OSCE's principles of press freedom.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had earlier said the deportation was a "deliberate provocation" by Ukraine's security service and nationalist radicals, and called on the OSCE to condemn the move.

Kyiv has banned more than a dozen Russian television channels since 2014, accusing them of spreading war propaganda.

On August 29, the SBU said it had barred two Spanish journalists over their coverage of the war in eastern Ukraine -- a move media groups decried as an attack on free speech.

Russian-Ukrainian relations soured badly after protesters angry over the Ukrainian government's abandonment of a landmark deal with the European Union pushed Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014.

Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, after sending in troops, and backed separatists whose war against Kyiv's forces has killed more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

With reporting by Ukrayinska Pravda, Interfax, TASS, and Reuters

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