Barred British reporter broke rules in Caucasus: official

8th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Guardian correspondent who was barred from entering Russia had repeatedly visited regions of the restless Caucasus that were off-limits to reporters, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

Expanding on the list of media violations allegedly committed by the British paper's Moscow correspondent Luke Harding, Lavrov said the reporter had illegally entered zones where Russian forces were conducting "counter-terrorist operations."

"No one stripped him of his visa," news agencies quoted Russia's top diplomat as saying.

"He repeatedly visited areas with counter-terrorist operation regimes," Lavrov said.

"He received warnings from the security servicing stating that he must inform them" of his presence in those area, said Lavrov.

"He admitted that he behaved incorrectly, and asked that we extend his visa through May as an exception, which we did," Lavrov said.

Russia imposes special security regimes in restless parts of war-torn Chechnya and other regions of its predominantly Muslim North Caucasus.

Earlier Tuesday, the foreign ministry said that Harding was barred in part because he did not have a valid press card.

In a statement, the ministry said Harding had applied for a new journalist's accreditation in November but then left Moscow for London on personal business without receiving the new card.

The ministry added that if he "complies with these rules, which apply to all foreign correspondents, there should be no problems for L. Harding's entry to the Russian Federation."

© 2011 AFP

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