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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Russian Authorities Ease Travel Restrictions on
Correspondent Andrei Babitsky

Press Release, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
Washington, DC, August 8, 2000

Blue Line

RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine today welcomed the decision of Russian authorities to ease the travel restrictions on RFE/RL correspondent Andrei Babitsky.

"This represents an important step forward in this case," Dine said. He pointed out that Babitsky had been prevented from travelling to Bucharest last month to receive the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's prestigious journalism prize. Dine said he hoped the travel restrictions soon would be lifted completely and Babitsky could travel to the West and accept invitations to appear before U.S. Congressional committees.

Babitsky and his lawyer, Genri Reznik, told RFE/RL's Russian Service this morning that the restrictions had been lifted by the Russian interior ministry at the request of prominent public figures, including Duma members Yuri Shchekochikin and Sergei Yuzhenkov and "Novaya gazeta" editor Dmitriy Muratov. Babitsky can now travel in Russia but is still denied an international passport and cannot leave the country.

Babitsky's travails with the Russian legal system began last winter when the Russian military, infuriated by Babitsky's coverage of Russian conduct of the Chechen war, detained the Radio Liberty correspondent for 40 days.

At the time of his release, Russian prosecutors charged him with violating Russian passport regulations and ordered him to remain in Moscow. Dine said that it was obvious that this charge had been trumped up to keep Babitsky from travelling and doing his job as a journalist. The RFE/RL president repeated his call for Moscow to drop all charges against Babitsky.

[end of document]

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