European Federation of Journalists

Attackers of BBC News Team in Russia Must Answer for Crimes

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have joined calls for a thorough and immediate investigation to be carried out into an attack on a BBC news team in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan.

According to the BBC, the team was in the city to investigate reports of Russian servicemen being killed near the border with Ukraine. They were in their car when they were approached by a number of aggressive individuals who confronted them, violently grabbed the team’s camera and smashed it on the road, and then escaped with it in a getaway car.

During the attack, the team’s cameraman was knocked to the ground and beaten.

“We join international condemnation of this attack and we call on Russian authorities to ensure that a detailed investigation is carried out so the perpetrators of this crime face the full weight of justice,” said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa.

“Journalists must be free to move and report without fear of intimidation of attack. Those responsible for this appalling attack must answer for their crimes.”

The team went to the local police station to report the incident, but on their return to their car they found that material they had recorded for their report had been deleted.

The BBC team is now safe in Moscow. The BBC says it has lodged a formal protest with Russia over the incident and called for an investigation. Authorities in Astrakhan are reported to have launched a criminal case into the attack.

Commenting on the attack, Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “This was an appalling attack on BBC journalists and press freedom. It is totally unacceptable behaviour designed to intimidate innocent people going about their work in the public interest.

“I would appeal to all those in positions of influence to unite against this type of behaviour and ensure journalists can do their jobs.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries