Location Ukraine Ukraine

Austrian journalist has been included in death list in Ukraine

The international scandal is gaining due to the inclusion of the famous Austrian journalist, 57-year-old Christian Wehrschütz in the list of enemies and «pro-Russian propagandists» in Ukraine.

Wehrschütz, recognized in Austria as a journalist of the year in 2014, a long-term special correspondent in the Balkans, has been heading the bureau of the largest Austrian television channel ORF in Kiev since 2015.

An Austrian journalist covered the conflict in the Donbas from its very beginning, in particular, he talked a lot about humanitarian topics and also made a series of reports from Crimea.

Now Wehrschütz was deprived of accreditation on the territory of Donbas controlled by Kiev and was included in the database of «Kremlin agents» called “Posipaka” (“henchman”). This site is similar to the notorious “Mirotvorets”. “Posipaka” is supported by the Center for Army Studies, Conversion and Disarmament. The director of this center is journalist Valentin Badrak, who is a member of the public council at the Ukrainian state security service.

Unlike “Mirotvorets”, this site is just a “board of shame,” it does not disclose personal data of enlisted “enemies”. Nevertheless, the Austrian journalist fears for his life, because such lists are considered «firing» (the reporter mentions the murder of Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina, who got into the base of “Mirotvorets”).

Wehrschütz turned to the Austrian government for help. “There are militarized, ultra-nationalist groups in Ukraine that threaten journalists who critically cover the politics of Ukraine’s leadership. Two journalists have already been killed, I don’t want to be next,” Wehrschütz wrote in a statement.

According to him, «the EU countries and the USA know about it, but they are silent.» Wehrschütz asked the Austrian authorities to secure the removal of his name from the “Posipaka — Kremlin Agent” portal.

Austrian Foreign Ministry responded to the scandal accusing Ukraine of obstructing the work of a journalist in the conflict zone.

“The increasing restriction of media freedom in Ukraine is unacceptable. With great concern, I watch the conditions in which Ukrainian and international media operate. The use of violence and threats against journalists should be punished,” Karin Kneissl, the head of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, said and called the Ukrainian ambassador for explanations.

Colleagues speak of Wehrschütz as an experienced journalist who covered the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia after 1999 and they say: it is difficult to suspect him of sympathy for Moscow. He has repeatedly been extremely critical of Russian politics in Ukraine. Wehrschütz also refused requests for interviews of two major Russian TV channels. “I do not want to give Russia ammunition against Ukraine,” the journalist said at the time.

Wehrschütz’s colleagues believe that he was included in the list of «enemies» not only for the Crimean reports, but also for the objective coverage of events in the Donbas region.

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