Russia fumes at expulsion of TV reporter from Ukraine
A new public-relations war raged Thursday between Moscow and Kiev after Ukraine deported a reporter with Russia's Channel One television for allegedly running "destructive" stories about the crisis-torn ex-Soviet state.
Ukraine's State Security Service (SBU) said it had expelled Alexandra Cherepnina for basing one of her stories on a home video in which a Ukrainian child was shown performing a Nazi salute and wielding a knife while calling for the murder of Russians.
The SBU said Thursday it had decided to "block the destructive actions of Channel One's journalist" and bar her from re-entering the country for three years.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman denounced the expulsion as "completely unacceptable".
"Unfortunately, Ukraine has long since turned into a place where it is both hard and dangerous for reporters to work," spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.
"Unfortunately, we are witnessing a complete intolerance for pluralism in Ukraine," he said.
Channel One has dominated Soviet and Russian airwaves for nearly 80 years. Its popular evening news show Vremya (Time), on which Cherepnina's report aired, has been the main source of information for many since 1974.
The channel led its Wednesday evening programmes with an 11-minute report about the deportation.
It featured a phone interview with Cherepnina, sent to Kiev on a special assignment, from the plane taking her back to Moscow.
The SBU agents "told me that I could have been the one who shot the (child) video and then presented it as if it was made by someone else," Cherepnina told the station.
The purported father in the video asks the child one question in Russian and another in Ukrainian -- an unusual combination for what Channel One television said was a family of ultranationalists.
Moscow and Kiev have been waging a furious propaganda campaign through their state -- and some private -- media outlets designed to discredit the other and win over domestic support.
Russian television portrays the leadership that ousted an Kremlin-backed president last year as a "fascist" regime whose rise to power was part of a well-funded US effort to win the allegiance of vital ex-Soviet countries with close Moscow ties.
Kiev and its Western allies fight back with footage purporting to show Russian soldiers and weapons involved in the separatist conflict that has killed 6,500 people in east Ukraine in the past 15 months.
Russia denies any involvement in the war but provides the rebels with humanitarian support and diplomatic backing at frequent UN Security Council debates.
© 2015 AFP