Location Ukraine Ukraine

Austrian foreign ministry concerned with act of censorship in Ukraine

On March 7, the Ukrainian border guards did not let Austrian journalist Christian Wehrschutz enter the country. He was denied entry to Ukraine for one year.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of an act of censorship. The entry ban for the correspondent of the ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk, Austrian public broadcasting company) Christian Wehrschutz is an unacceptable act of censorship in Europe. This was stated on March 7 by Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl.

According to her, this approach is “incompatible with European values.” The minister urged the Ukrainian authorities to lift the ban. It contradicts the obligations that Ukraine assumed under the association agreement with the EU.

This position of the Austrian government, Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Johannes Peterlik told the Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria Alexander Shcherba.

ORF Director General Alexander Wrabetz also protested. “This constitutes unacceptable interference in the journalistic profession. Wehrschutz is one of the most famous experts in Eastern Europe. This is an unprecedented restriction of media freedom and disregard of the public information mission in the service of the Austrian people,” Wrabetz said.

Christian Wehrschutz worked for more than 4 years as the head office of the largest Austrian television channel ORF in Kiev.

Earlier this year, Wehrschutz, who covered the conflict in the Donbas and made a series of reports from the Crimea, was put on the list of enemies and “pro-Russian propagandists” in Ukraine. The journalist was credited with «violating the state border of Ukraine», «participating in attempts to justify annexation of Crimea», as well as «anti-Ukrainian propaganda.»

Wehrschutz himself suggests that the authorities are simply unhappy with criticism. Ukrainian authorities might not like some more observations of a foreign journalist while working in the Donbas. Wehrschutz twice interviewed the chief editor of the Internet newspaper Strana Igor Guzhva, who in October of this year was granted asylum in Austria, fleeing from the persecution of the Kiev regime.

This time Wehrschutz was traveling to Ukraine to interview the presidential candidates Zelensky and Tymoshenko.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria, Alexander Shcherba, in an interview with Austrian media, stated that the ban is not so much connected with «critical coverage of Ukraine, but with his tone and reaction or setting out what he chooses for his coverage.»

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