Secretary General Bjørn Engesland supports the EU and Norway placing Dmitry Kiselyov on the so-called black-list of Russian and Crimean citizens to be denied entry.(Photo: The Norwegian Helsinki Committee)
“Dmitry Kiselyov is a propagandist for President Putin and well known for his anti-Semitism and hate speech,” says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee strongly disagrees with Barents Press that denying Dmitry Kiselyov access to Norway is a violation against the freedom of expression.
“Barents Press fails to mention that Kiselyov is not only “controversial”, but has been added to the EU sanctions list for his role as a central figure of the government propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine. Norway has joined these sanctions,” says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland to BarentsObserver.
DIfferent views on freedom of speech Barents Press Norway posted a letter to Foreign Minister Børge Brende on Wednesday urging him to reconsider the entry-denial of Dmitry Kiselyov. The journalist network writes that by refusing Kiselyov entry to Norway and to attend the Barents Press International annual meeting, Norwegian authorities restrict the freedom of speech.
“The issue is not about Norway granting a visa to Kiselyov, as termed by Barents Press, but whether to exclude Kiselyov from the sanctions. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee considers this both unrealistic and unprincipled. We do not believe the sanctions against Kiselyov are a violation against the freedom of expression,” explains Bjørn Engesland.
“Dmitry Kisleyov is a propagandist for president Putin and well known for his anti-Semitism and hate speech,” he says.
Barents Press Norway argues, however, that it is exactly because Kiselyov is a controversial journalist he has been invited to the annual meeting. This view is not shared by the human right group.
“It is wrong to consider this as journalism. Kisleyovs role as head of Russia Today, strongly supported by the Russian Government, gives him a unique platform in Russian media. To put the situation in a different light, we will add that Russian journalists who have criticized Putin for his invasion have already been fined. That is a violation of the freedom of expression,” says Børn Engesland.
Support to journalists The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has since 2001 supported a comprehensive training program in human rights and intercultural understanding for journalists from the Russian northern regions.
Elena Larionova is coordinator for the Russian journalists in the Barents Press network.
Elena Larionova is coordinator for the Barents Press network in northwestern Russia. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
“The Norwegian Helsinki Committee supports travel and seminars for journalists from Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Karelia. We have a great and important cooperation,” says Elena Larionova to BarentsObserver.
The Kiselyov-case has also triggered reactions from the journalist community in St. Petersburg where 88 journalists have signed a statement counter-arguing any support to remove Dmitry Kiselyov from EU’s sanction list.
The statement, posted by the information portal Lenisdat.ru, instead urges the journalist community in Russia to voice their concern about real freedom of speech issues, like persecution of independent journalism in the country. According to Glasnost Defense Foundation, four journalists were killed in Russia last year. 84 journalists were detained by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.