New York, September 18, 2003—Lithuanian border guards detained and expelled a film crew from the independent, Moscow-based national television station NTV on Sunday, September 14, after they filmed a protest on a train near the Lithuanian-Russian border.
According to Russian and Lithuanian press reports, NTV journalist Vadim Fefilov, cameraman Vladimir Chervyakov, and sound technician Aleksey Zolotov arrived at the Kena border post in Lithuania at about 10 a.m. on September 14 on a train heading from Moscow to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania.
When Lithuanian State Border Guard Service officials entered the train to check passports and visas, a group of Russian activists from the ultra-nationalist National Bolshevik Party who were traveling in the same car as the NTV crew began protesting new visa regulations requiring Russian citizens traveling to Kalinigrad to obtain a “transit document” in order to cross Lithuania into the exclave.
The journalists filmed the protests, and border guards detained Fefilov and Chervyakov. They were held for five hours, fined 225 litas (about US$75) each, and expelled from Lithuania on the next train to Moscow.
According to Russian and Lithuanian press reports, Zolotov continued filming the protest with his personal video camera and was later detained by the border guards along with the National Bolshevik Party protesters. The guards also confiscated his handheld camera. The State Border Guard Service’s Web site (www.pasienis.lt) reported that Zolotov was fined 300 litas (about $US100) and ordered to leave the country within 48 hours.
“The NTV crew was doing nothing more than covering a news event, and to restrict them because the event happened to occur on a train near the border is outrageous,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Lithuanian authorities should apologize to these journalists and ensure that such violations of press freedom do not occur in the future.”