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ABC News Seeks Clarification of Russia Reporting Ban

Aug 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

ABC News was “reaching out” Wednesday to the Russian Foreign Ministry to clarify whether its journalists are indeed banned by the government from working in Russia in response to “Nightline’s” broadcast last week of an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, who has a $10 million bounty on his head.

On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it would not renew accreditations for ABC News correspondents and that the network’s journalists were “now unwelcome to contact any Russian state organizations or bodies.” The ministry characterized the interview with Mr. Basayev, conducted by a Russian journalist, as “supporting the propaganda of terrorism.”

A “Nightline” spokeswoman said that while individual bureau members’ accreditations expire on a staggered schedule, the Moscow bureau’s accreditation has no expiration date.

Mr. Basayev, who claims credit for numerous terrorist attacks, including the 2004 hostage situation at a school in Beslan, Russia, in which more than 300 were killed, said in the interview that his followers had taken a winter “break,” but added, “I’m making plans. We’ll see. We’re always looking for new ways. If one thing fails, we’ll look for something new.”

ABC News President David Westin said he hopes the Russian government will reconsider its edict.