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HN: Russia denies visa to Czech journalist, retaliating

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Prague, Aug 4 (CTK) – Russia has refused to grant the visa to Czech journalist Ondrej Soukup from the paper Hospodarske noviny (HN), which may be its retaliation for the Czech Foreign Ministry not having extended the accreditations of two Russian journalists in April, HN writes yesterday.
“Like many times before, I applied for the journalist visas, but one day before my flight, the consulate told me that my application was turned down,” Soukup has told the paper.
“I learned unofficially that this was a retaliatory measure for Czech authorities’ not having extended the accreditations of two Russian journalists in the Czech Republic,” he added.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has said it does not know about any similar case yet, HN writes.
“At the moment, we are trying to learn why the Russian authorities have taken the step,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova has told the paper.
“If we do not find it in an unofficial way, we will consider taking steps towards the Russian authorities. There are official ways with which to deal with the situation,” she added.
“We will proceed depending on the seriousness of the affair by available diplomatic means,” Lagronova said.
“There is the generally respected procedure, also honoured by the Czech authorities, that decisions on visa affairs are not commented on,” Alexey Kolmakov, spokesman for the Russian embassy, has told the paper.
This April, the Czech Foreign Minister did not extend accreditations to Alexander Kuranov, a correspondent of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, and reporter Vladimir Snegiryov from the Rossiyskaya Gazeta government paper.
The decision was made on the basis of a report of the BIS counter-intelligence saying that the men in question collaborated with the Russian secret services, HN writes.
The two men’s residence permits were not withdrawn from them.
Moscow then said it would take “reciprocal measures.”
“HN will keep trying to have the journalist visa granted to its reporters so that they can inform truthfully about the developments in Russia,” HN editor-in-chief Martin Jasminsky is quoted as saying.
“Until the Russian authorities understand the absurdity of their behaviour, the paper will use its fellow workers who have access to Russia,” he added.

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