Russian journalist and anchor of now-suspended independent TV Dozhd (Rain), Mikhail Fishman has said he was barred from entering Georgia without explanations.
“It is clear they did not allow me [to enter] because I am a popular journalist in Russia,” Fishman told the Georgian-language service of RFE/RL on March 6.
“What can I say, this is an internal affair of Georgia,” he stressed, adding “this was a demonstration of the attitude toward me and independent journalism of Russia, which now faces risks like never before.”
Detailing the alleged refusal, Fishman said he was stalled by border authorities upon arrival in Georgia for about an hour, while his 14- and 4-year-old daughters were allowed into the country without hindrances.
He noted that while the border service employees inquired about the purpose of his visit and the length of his stay, and subsequently issued the refusal.
Fishman said his younger daughter ended up deported as well, after she chose to stay behind with her father despite being allowed to enter in Georgia.
The journalist said he had departed from Russia on the morning of March 2, a day after the Russian authorities shut down the websites of TV Dozhd and Echo Moskvy, and as it had become evident the TV station would also be shut down.
Fishman noted he was planning to stay for about two weeks in Georgia, where his oldest daughter and relatives reside.
The journalist said he may be arrested in Russia, arguing that hastily adopted legislation outlawing the spread of “fake” reports about the war against Ukraine can be enforced retroactively.
Refusing Fishman’s entry to Georgia could be discriminatory, according to the Tbilisi-based Media Advocacy Coalition, uniting over a dozen local watchdogs.
The Coalition on March 6 called on the Georgian government not to create “artificial obstacles to Russian journalists that are persecuted because of their professional duties.”
It also urged the authorities to issue clarifications about Fishman’s deportation.
Civil.ge has reached out to the Georgian Interior Ministry for comments, which will be added to the article if provided.
The alleged refusal of Fishman’s entry follows that of several Russian opposition politicians over the past several months, including Lyubov Sobol, a key ally of jailed Alexei Navalny, among others.
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