Barents Press chairman Morten Ruud is based in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes. He has earlier been the Norwegian broadcasting corporation's correspondent in Moscow. Photo: Thomas Nilsen
“Equal rules for journalists reporting across the borders in the Barents Region should be included in the new Kirkenes-declaration to be signed by the Prime Ministers of Norway, Russia, Sweden and Finland,” says head of Barents Press Morten Ruud.
It is not easy to be a foreign reporter working in Russia. You need a journalist visa and then also an accreditation. That process is bureaucratic and requires loads of patience.
Russia’s accreditation rule often excludes journalists from small newspapers and editorial desks in the other Barents member regions to report from Barents Russia. It just takes too much time to arrange the needed papers. News-events are not always easy to plan three months in advance.
“We hope the upcoming new Kirkenes-declaration for the Barents cooperation will include a statement about abolishing the present Russian accreditation system for foreign journalists,” says Morten Ruud, head of Barents Press International.
Barents Press International is a network of journalists in the northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia that facilitates for joint seminars, study tours and practical assistance to journalists that are curious about what’s going on in their neighboring countries. The network is as old as the Barents cooperation itself, established in 1993.
In June this year, the Prime Ministers of Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden will meet in Kirkenes to mark the 20-years anniversary of the Barents cooperation. They are planning to sign a new declaration outlining the future priorities for cross-border cooperation at the top of Europe. Barents Press has sent their proposals to the new declaration.
“We urge the participating countries to support the development of mass media and the freedom of speech within the region,” reads the letter sent to the Norwegian chairmanship of the Barents Council. Abolishing the current Russian accreditation system for foreign journalists is needed to establish equal rules and regulations, argues Barents Press.
“The aim of the Barents cooperation is to promote contacts across formerly closed borders and to increase economic interaction between the regions. Good information is a key to reach those goals and journalists are the best to provide it,” says Morten Ruud. He argues that breaking stereotypes is still important, especially among Scandinavian journalists’ view on what is going on in Russia.
Russia plans to resume testing of the submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava this summer. The country’s two newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines will start trials as soon as the ice conditions in the White Sea will allow.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
More than 900 reindeer die of hunger on the Russian Arctic island of Kolguyev following a critical lack of available local pasturelands. The reindeer stocks in the area are too badly managed, regional authorities admit.
The current situation in Ukraine makes cross-border cooperation with the neighboring countries even more important, Barents Secretariat leader Rune Rafaelsen says. At the same time, Norway has joined NATO’s condemnation of Russia’s military escalation on the Crimea peninsula.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.