Russian Journalist Ashot Dzhazoyan Banned from Entering Ukraine for Three Years

Update: 05 Jul 2017 State replied
Year 12 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Alert level Level 2
12 May 2017 Ukraine Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , Index , IPI , RSF Level 2

Ashot Dzhazoyan, the secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, was banned from entering Ukraine for the next three years over “systematic violations of Ukrainian legislation as regards Ukraine’s border crossing during visits to the occupied Crimea”. The Ukrainian Security Service also accuse him of “committing socially dangerous actions that contradict Ukrainian security interests”. The Union of Journalists of the Russian Federation called the decision as “incomprehensible”. Mr Dzhazoyan is one of the most active participants in at the dialogue between members of professional organisations of journalists from Russia and Ukraine under the theme "Two Countries, One Profession". He is also co- chair of youth OSCE project. On 15 April 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law ‘On the rights and freedoms of citizens and legal regime of the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine’. According to its Article 10, foreign citizens may visit Crimea only from mainland Ukraine and with a special permit. In September 2015, journalism was added as a ground of getting a permit, making possible for foreign journalists to go to Crimea. However, the procedures to receive the special permit have been criticised by the local NGOs as cumbersome – to receive the permit, foreign journalists must be physically present in Ukraine, they must file an application in Ukrainian, wait for approval letter from the Ministry of Information Policy, send it to the State Migration Service of Ukraine and then wait again for up to five days to obtain the permit.

State replies

05 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

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On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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