FOREIGN JOURNALISTS BLOCKED FROM VISITING CHECHNYA?

A little-noticed government directive signed on 11 October has made it much more difficult for foreign journalists to visit Chechnya, according to Oleg Panfilov, director of the watchdog Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, writing in the 5 November edition of “Nezavisimaya gazeta.” The directive approves a list of territories, organizations, and establishments that foreign citizens need special permission to enter, including “zones where antiterrorist operations are being conducted.” Panfilov noted that the directive does not specify how foreign journalists can obtain the necessary permission to enter Chechnya or for what period of time it would be issued. Panfilov also quoted the center’s legal expert Boris Panteleev as saying Russia’s law on terrorism does not include any formal bureaucratic procedure for granting permission to enter such zones. Under Russia’s constitution, “sub-legal acts” like presidential decrees and government directives may not contradict existing legislation. LB