Press release warns restrictions could put journalists’ safety at risk following earlier cases of targeted attacks and abuse

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have condemned the underhand attempts of Crimea’s regional government to curtail media coverage of the region’s referendum on March 16.

The regional government, the Verkhovna Rada Autonomous Republic of Crimea, yesterday, 12 March, published a statement (read it here) on its website which says: “Applications for media accreditation are served to the press centre of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea up to 13 March 2014 by any means of communication on the official letterhead of the media, signed by the head and sealed.”

Furthermore, the statement says the application should follow a number of strict procedures including:
–        “stamped copy of the certificate on state registration of mass media or a copy of the license for broadcasting of audio-visual mass media;”
–        “full name of mass media, its founder or the publishers, the location of media distribution area, work phone and fax number, surname, patronymic of the head of media, contact phone number;”
–        “technical equipment which will be used by the journalist of accredited media to discharge their professional duties;”

The IFJ and EFJ have stated that the “ludicrously short” time period for media accreditation applications is completely unrealistic and unreasonable and the requirements of the accreditation simply cannot be obtained in time.
“This is clearly an underhand attempt by the regional government of Crimea to restrict and undermine media coverage of the upcoming referendum,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “First of all we have this laughably short one day turnaround period for applications which ends today, then an attempt to wrap journalists up in so much red tape that they haven’t a hope of meeting the deadline.
“The result is deeply concerning for media who plan to cover the referendum. It will mean that journalists will be forced to work illegally, without accreditation, an action which could put their safety at risk in a region where many journalists have already been attacked and abused in recent days.”
The IFJ and EFJ have called on the regional government of Crimea to scrap the ludicrous media accreditation process and give open access to media covering the referendum on 16 March.
“This attempt to undermine press freedom and restrict media coverage of the referendum must be reversed and open coverage of the events must be allowed,” said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17 The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries