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Ukraine: Poroshenko U-turns on BBC sanctions

by Our Foreign Desk

UKRAINIAN President Petro Poroshenko was forced yesterday to remove three BBC journalists from a travel blacklist just a day after authorising it.

Mr Poroshenko signed the list on Wednesday, barring nearly 400 individuals from entering Ukraine, including BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg and producer Emma Wells, both British, and Russian cameraman Anton Chicherov.

The presidential decree accused those on the list of presenting an unspecified “threat to national interests, national security, sovereignty or territorial integrity.”

BBC foreign editor Andrew Roy called the ban a shameful attack on media freedom.

“These sanctions are completely inappropriate and inexplicable measures to take against BBC journalists who are reporting the situation in Ukraine impartially and objectively,” he said.

“We call on the Ukrainian government to remove their names from this list immediately."

Presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko said yesterday that Mr Poroshenko had asked his National Security and Defence Council, which drafted the list, to remove the names of BBC staff.

Other banned journalists include Spanish reporters Antonio Pampliega and Angel Sastre, who disappeared in Syria in July and are believed to have been kidnapped by Islamic State (Isis), and two reporters for Russian news agencies in South Africa and Turkey with no clear links to Ukraine.

“I have never been to Ukraine and don’t have any intention of travelling there in the near future,” said German journalist Michael Rutz.

Russian news agency Tass called the decision to blacklist three of its reporters — based in the US, South Africa and Russia — as “odd,” since two of the three do not even cover Ukraine.

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