Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Russia bars U.S. ABC TV over Basayev interview

ABC comes to the abrupt realization they aren't in Kansas anymore.

MOSCOW, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Moscow is barring journalists from U.S. television channel ABC from working in Russia after the channel broadcast an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Accreditations for ABC's reporters would not be renewed and, in the meantime, they would be banned from talking to Russian officials, it said.

Free speech advocates have repeatedly criticised President Vladimir Putin's government for restricting the Russian press, but this appeared to be the first action against a major Western media organisation.

"ABC is now unwelcome to contact any Russian state organisations or bodies," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

It said broadcasting the Basayev interview "was a clear case of helping to propagandise terrorism" and accreditations for ABC workers would "not be renewed".

A blow to free speech in Russia for sure but one can hardly keep from grinning and silently reflecting " it serves you right you bias ba$tards".

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