Russia will not renew the press accreditation of journalists working for ABC, after the Moscow correspondent of the American television network conducted an interview with Chechian warlord Shamil Basayev.
The move means that ABC reporters can forget about asking questions to Russian government sources. Russian journalist Andrei Babitsky, who conducted the interview for Nightline, could face prosecution.
Basayev, who has claimed responsibility for the Beslan school hostage-taking, is public enemy number one in Russia and has $10 million bounty on his head. The Russian government said the ABC report had offered “a platform to a blood thirsty terrorist” and was “supporting the propaganda of terrorism”.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the Russian Foreign Ministry issed a press release saying that “ABC is persona non grata as far as any contact with an official Russian organization is concerned&rdquo.
It couldn’t have helped that the reporter in question was Andrei Babitsky, who has long been a thorn in the Kremlin’ side. In 2000, while he was working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Babitsky was detained by Russian authorities after reporting on Chechnya.