What is Known So Far About US Denial of Visas to Russian Journalists

 / Go to the mediabankUS coat of arms at the US Embassy in Moscow. / Go to the mediabankInternationalIndiaAfricaThe US denied visas to Russian journalists who were supposed to accompany Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on his official visit to the UN headquarters in New York City this week. Lavrov is due to take part in the signature events within the framework of Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council.A plane with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other members of Russia’s UN delegation took off from Moscow and flew to “the Land of the Free” on April 23.However, Lavrov’s team did not include Russian journalists, who were not allowed to participate in Russia’s flagship UN Security Council events by the US authorities. With just 40 minutes left before their flight, the Russian reporters, accredited for coverage of UN activities at the NY headquarters, found that the US embassy still hadn’t issued their visas.

"They are all at the airport," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram account on April 23. "Visas not issued. The answer from the American embassy: 'We are working on it'. The manipulation of freedom of speech and the [infringement] on rights of journalists is obvious."

RussiaSputnik Correspondent Sheds Light on How US Prevents Russian Journalists From Doing Their JobYesterday, 14:20 GMTEven though the Russian delegation and accompanying reporters applied for US visas well beforehand, US authorities resorted to delays and circumlocution, starting to issue the travel documents only in mid-April. Meanwhile, the Russian delegation was scheduled to take part in the UN Security Council’s major open debates on April 24 and 25, as the Russian presidency of the body is about to wrap up.The United States clearly demonstrated “what its sworn assurances about protecting freedom of speech and access to information are really worth,” Lavrov noted in his Sunday statement.”Most importantly, be sure: we won’t forget, we won’t forgive,” Lavrov said. “Of course, I understood that our American colleagues are well-known for doing such things, but I was sure that this time, given the attention that has been drawn to their ugly behavior, everything would be different. But I was wrong.””Please try to keep track of what we are going to do there and spread this truth through your channels. I am convinced that it will draw much more interest all over the world than the ‘filtered’ information that our Western colleagues bring down on the heads of their viewers, listeners, and readers,” the Russian foreign minister underscored.WorldLavrov Spearheads Multilateralism and Fairer World Order in UN Security Council05:00 GMTRussia expects that the UN leadership and relevant international structures will take the necessary steps in connection with the failure of the US to issue visas to Russian journalists. This was emphasized in the April 23 statement from the Russian Permanent Mission to the UN.

"This [the visa denial] was done despite the fact that Russian media representatives complied with all relevant terms and requirements, including a valid UN accreditation," the statement said. "We consider this step as another manifestation of neglect of international law by the United States. When denying access to UN events for Russian journalists, the US authorities once again demonstrate their true attitude to freedom of speech and availability of information."

In accordance with Article IV of the 1947 UN and US Agreement regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, “the federal, state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of: (3) representatives of the press, or of radio, film or other information agencies, who have been accredited by the United Nations (or by such a specialized agency) in its discretion after consultations with the United States.”However, the office of the official representative of the UN Secretary General António Guterres refrained from commenting on the US refusal to issue visas to Russian journalists on April 23. “I have no comments,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary general, told Sputnik.RussiaMoscow Says Foreign Journalists to Receive Visas Despite Incident With WSJ Correspondent30 March, 14:30 GMTThe Western press also seemed unimpressed by the infringement on rights of Russian journalists and clear violation of the 1947 UN-US agreements. Associated Press wrote a piece titled “Russia ‘will not forgive’ US denial of journalist visas,” focusing on Moscow’s possible “retaliatory measures” and adding that “there was no immediate comment from the US State Department about the claim of refused visas.” The Washington Post covered the issue laconically, specifying that the US government “declined to comment about the visas, citing privacy issues.” Newsweek remarked that Russia is “upset” by the fact that its reporters were denied US visas.While refraining from any criticism towards the US government, the American media outlets referred to heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow, the Russian special military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine, as well as the arrest of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich, who was caught red-handed in Yekaterinburg while collecting classified information regarding the activities of one of the firms of Russia’s military-industrial complex, as per the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Remarkably, while raising concerns over Gershkovich's arrest, the US press keeps largely mum about the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, accused of espionage by the US. Last week marked the fourth year of the imprisonment of the Australian citizen who shed light on the US and NATO's gruesome actions against Afghan and Iraqi civilians in the course of the military bloc's invasions in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the apparent attempts to justify the US authorities’ decision not to give visas to Russian reporters don’t seem convincing given the clear formula of Article IV of the 1947 UN and US Agreement which says that Washington “shall not impose any impediments to transit” of the press to the international body’s headquarters.


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