20 Mar 2017 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 20 Mar 2017 Russian Federation

FSB Detains Independent Journalists in Svetogorsk

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner Index Article 19 AEJ CPJ RSF
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Partner Index Article 19 AEJ CPJ RSF
On 7 March, 2017 officers from the Russian Security Service (FSB) detained journalists for the Moscow-based independent news magazine Snob-Igor Zalyubovin, a reporter, and Vladimir Yarotsky, a photographer- in the building where the journalists had rented an apartment to report on the daily life in the city of Svetogorsk, Snob said in a statement. The article was planned as a response to Svetogorsk's Mayor's claim that there were no homosexuals in the city, and that it was a "city without sin," according to press reports.
FSB officers took Zalyubovin and Yarotsky to a nearby detention centre, where they were charged with crossing into a border zone without permission. They were later released and ordered to leave Svetogorsk, according to their employer.

It was the second time in as many days that journalists were detained and prevented from reporting from the city. Yevgeniya Zobnina, a correspondent for the Moscow-based independent television channel Dozhd TV, traveled with rights activists to the city on March 6, also to follow up on the Mayor's claims, according to press reports. Zobnina planned to report on a meeting the activists sought with the Mayor, Dozhd TV reported. Instead, FSB agents took Zobnina and the four activists to a local police station for questioning. The officers asked the journalist why she was doing the report, and for whom, before issuing the group a warning for crossing into a border zone without permission and releasing them, Dozhd TV reported.

On 7 March, the Committee to Protect Journalists made a statement saying Russian security services should stop harassing and obstructing journalists and should allow them to work unimpeded. Svetogorsk is a town of 15,000 people, located roughly 200 kilometers from St. Petersburg and one kilometer away from the border with Finland. To visit requires either a Schengen visa to enter via Finland, an invitation from a local resident, or a special permit from the FSB, according to 2014 legislation. On 7 March 2017, Snob’s editor-in-chief, Yegor Mostovshikov, told the news website Meduza that his outlet did not apply for a permit from the FSB “because it takes up to 30 days to get it.”
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