[main page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][guestbook][press-service][hot issues]

French Author Says Russia Expelled Her on Political Grounds

The Wall Street Journal

February 13, 2012

By Alexander Kolyandr

MOSCOW Prominent French journalist and author Anne Nivat said Russian immigration authorities forced her to leave the country where she was working on a book on the current political situation.

In an email from France, Ms. Nivat said Russian immigration officials in the provincial town of Vladimir detained her and gave her three days to leave the country. While the formal reason given was violation of visa rules, she said that officials who questioned her made clear that her meetings with opposition politicians were undesirable.

It clearly didnt please them that I was having conversations with people from the oppositionthey clearly said it, many times, Ms. Nivat said, noting that officials had information about her meetings that suggested she had been followed for days.

Russias Federal Migration Service declined to comment. The French Embassy in Moscow said it had not been informed of the case. Russian regulations require working journalists to acquire special visas, but Ms. Nivat said that as a freelance author, she was unable to obtain a press visa and had gotten a business visa as she had for previous trips. Ms. Nivat worked in Moscow for French newspapers and magazines in the 1990s and 2000s and won a prestigious French journalism prize for a book she wrote on the war in Chechnya.

Political tensions are running high in Russia ahead of the Mar. 4 presidential election after opposition groups have mounted the largest public demonstrations against the government in decades. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is seeking to return to the presidency, has attacked his critics as puppets of western powers that aim to weaken Russia.

Last year, Russian officials denied a journalist visa to Luke Harding, who was the Moscow correspondent for the Guardian, the British newspaper, at the time. The Guardian said the move was retribution for Mr. Hardings critical coverage of Russia, while local authorities said he had violated visa regulations. His was one of the first cases of a western journalist being expelled from Russia since the Cold War, according to the Guardian.

Ms. Nivat said she traveled to Russian provincial towns where she was meeting, among others, with members of the opposition. She traveled outside Vladimir to meet with a local official from the Yabloko party.

She said ten minutes after her return to a hotel in Vladimir Friday, the immigration officers showed up at her hotel and took her to their station. They canceled my one-year multi-entry business visa and gave me a transit visa, according to which I had three days to leave Russia, she said.

Ms. Nivat said that the officers made clear to her that she had been followed for daysthey mentioned her meetings with members of the Communist Party and Yabloko in Petrozavodsk, another provincial town in Russias north.

I thank (the authorities) for having given me the idea for the last chapter of my book, she said.

See also:

the original publication

Freedom of speech

Presidential Elections 2012

State Duma Elections 2011


The Wall Street Journal

February 13, 2012

Rambler's Top100