Staff of epress.am went to Javakheti to make a series of interviews on the impact of the Russian press on the region
Three journalists of the Armenian network resource Epress.am were not allowed into Georgia.
Georgian border guards refused to explain the reasons and only told reporters that their ‘working in Georgia was undesirable.’
Information from Yerevan
Yuri Manvelal, one of the three journalists traveling to Georgia says the Epress.am crew was traveling to Javakheti when they were denied entry at the Georgian-Armenian border.
When the journalists explained that they would be conducting interviews to report on the impact of Russian press in the region, customs officials told them they should have received permission to shoot and should have been accredited as journalits.
When the journalists were refused to enter with video cameras and laptops, they agreed to leave their equipment in Armenia. However, even then they were not allowed to cross the checkpoint.
“In an aggressive tone, we were told that without permission we cannot engage in journalism in Georgia. We asked for clarification, to which we were told that the employee who made such a decision has not changed his mind, and we are not allowed to enter Georgia,” said Manvelyan.
Manvelyan informed the customs officer that Epress.com had traveled to Georgia before without any problems. But he simply replied that “the situation had changed”.
Manvelyan says the customs officers did not provide a written justification for the decision not to let them into Georgia. Rather, everything was carried out in the form of an order “from above”.
“We want to understand why such a situation arose, and whether they will let us in next time. There are sites that are engaged in propaganda that provoke problems in Armenian-Georgian relations. However, we do not do this. Maybe there is some traditionally tense attitude towards the Armenian resources by Georgian officials?”.
Representatives of Epress.am appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, which, in turn, asked Georgian colleagues for clarification.
The information from Tbilisi
The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs says the refusal to admit journalists is subparagraph “i” of the 11th article of the law “On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons”.
This law regulates issues related to crossing the state border of Georgia. All subparagraphs of Article 11 clearly state why a foreigner may be denied entry to Georgia – this means a lack of documents, false documents, incorrect information about the reasons for entry or a potential security risk.
Subparagraph “i” is rather vague and does not provide information about the reasons for the refusal. It simply says that a foreign citizen may be denied entry into Georgia “in other cases stipulated by the legislation of Georgia”. That is, the specific reason why the journalists were not allowed in remains unclear.
This is not said in the Ministry of Internal Affairs either. Today, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia went on an official visit to Armenia. Most likely, in Yerevan he will be asked why the Armenian journalists in Georgia were not allowed in.