New York, June 1, 2005— Police and Federal Security Service (FSB) agents in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia detained three journalists from the Polish state television station TVP, according to The Associated Press.
Mariusz Pilis, Marcin Mamon, and Tomasz Glowacki were detained on Sunday around 8:30 p.m., at their hotel in Nazran, Ingushetia’s biggest city. Several police officers took them to a local police station and held them for 14 hours, where over a dozen police officers and at least one FSB agent interrogated them in separate rooms, Pilis told CPJ in a telephone interview today.
Pilis, who is producing a documentary film for TVP on life in the war-torn republic of Chechnya, told CPJ that he and his crew were planning to travel to the Chechen capital of Grozny on Monday to interview Chechen officials. Both he and his crew had Russian visas and had received the necessary press accreditation from the Foreign Ministry in order to work on the documentary.
Police, however, said the journalists’ visas and accreditation cards were no longer valid and confiscated 18 videotapes of footage the crew had previously filmed in Chechnya, Pilis said. Police also took the crew’s papers, television equipment, reporter’s notes, telephone contacts, and film.
Armed FSB agents escorted the crew back to their hotel in Nazran on Monday night but prevented them from leaving it for a few more hours, the AP said. The agents did not return the crew’s videotapes and film. Before leaving, “they [FSB agents] told us to leave Ingushetia immediately because if we stayed one more night, we would face big problems,” Pilis told CPJ.
The crew departed immediately for Vladikavkaz, the regional capital of the republic of North Ossetia, which borders Ingushetia. The Polish Consul-General Tomasz Klimansky is scheduled to fly there from Moscow tomorrow in order to meet with the journalists, Pilis told CPJ.
“We condemn the detention and harassment of our colleagues from Polish Television,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call upon Russian President Vladimr Putin to stop the continual intimidation of journalists and allow the media to report on the war in Chechnya.”