The new board of Barents Press Norway: Helge Lyngmoe, NRK (left), Amund Trellevik, Finnmarken, Arne Egil Tønset, freelancer (board leader), Morten Ruud, NRK, Trine Hamran, freelancer.(Photo: Gunnar Sætra)
APATITY: “More than ever before we need to set a strong focus on the challenges for Russian media when it comes to press freedom and freedom of speech”, says Arne Egil Tønseth, Chairman of Barents Press Norway.
Russian journalists and media have over the last years experienced more and more restrictions on how they can perform their work and what they are allowed to write. Also western media meet more difficulties today then earlier when applying for press accreditation for journalistic work in Russia.
“Russian authorities have put increased pressure on several Russian media companies, where they use journalist as a tool to sell their political agenda”, says Arne Egil Tønseth.
In a press release Tønseth and the rest of the members of the board of Barents Press Norway take a stand against Russian authorities efforts to control the work of the free press.
Tønseth is a former Moscow correspondent for the Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK and was this weekend chosen as the new leader for Norway’s Barents Press network. Barents Press is a network of journalists in the four Barents countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and this weekend they had their annual meeting.
More than 120 journalists from the Barents Region were gathered in Apatity in Murmansk Oblast last weekend. The meeting was organized by Barents Press Russia. Journalist’s rights and the numerous obstacles which journalists meet in their daily work was on the top of the agenda.
These obstacles is a constant element of frustration both for Russian and foreign journalists.
“The system of accreditation for foreign journalists makes it extremely bureaucratic for us to work in our neighboring country. Barents Press Norway will therefore continue our fight for abolishing the demand for accreditation of foreign journalists in Russia”, says Tønseth.
The meeting in Apatity had more participants than Barents Press has had for many years on their annual meetings, and the huge support of the conference has boosted the activity in the network. Barents Press International has also decided to set more focus on indigenous people’s issues by expanding the board with a Sámi representative, in addition to the four national representatives.
It is the Norwegian network which has had the chairmanship for the last two years, and this weekend it was passed on to the Finnish network. New leader for Barents Press International is Jonna Pulkkinen from Finland.
The host country for the annual meetings shifts between the four member countries in the network, and next year’s meeting will be in the Norwegian border town of Kirkenes.