An eyewitness account of what a Russian journalist who wants to work in hot spots must go through" />

Beatings and bullying: how war correspondents are trained in Russia

An eyewitness account of what a Russian journalist who wants to work in hot spots must go through

In Russia, a law has come into force according to which journalists are not allowed to work in conflict zones unless they have received a special diploma.   

Mediazone published a story by Russian journalist Svyat Pavlov about how he attended just such a course and training for this kind of work. 

The courses, called Bastion, take place in the Crimea.

“The first two days were entirely occupied with lectures.  The main idea was that the journalist is nobody, he can’t and knows nothing, and he needs to coordinate everything with the military.”

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Then practical exercises began.

“In the middle of the lecture, the marines, who portray terrorists, run in, start to lay everyone face down and beat you. I jumped out the window and ran through the territory of the military unit. I was caught and dragged back.”

All this time, Pavlov recalls, conditional terrorists shot blank rounds overhead at the hostages.

“This is not very pleasant – when there are cartridges being unloaded next to you, you have a bag on your head, you are suffocating and at the same time they are kicking you.”

Then the captured journalists with canvas bags on their heads were taken to the training ground.

“Then some real torture began: they put us on the bus, they kicked us there, everyone was suffocating in these bags. And they were strangled periodically by them. They shouted, threatened us, told us we were finished, that we would be killed.” 

At the training ground, says Svyat Pavlov, the captured were forced to crawl over stones with bags on their heads – “on their knees, on their elbows, on their fours, however, and at the same time they kicked us constantly, dosed us with sheep’s blood”.

They did not render medical assistance to the hostages: 

“There, one girl’s ear was torn, because she had an earring on her ear – her earring was torn off and that’s all, her ear was torn. Another girl who went into a hysterical fit was taken to an ambulance. Some guy’s ribs were beaten, my face and body were broken. There were many injured. My colleague went to the infirmary, asked to help him, but they told him there: “You were beaten by professionals, everything should be fine with you.”

The journalist decided not to wait for the continuation of the “training” and left the Bastion courses.

In Moscow, Svyat Pavlov turned to doctors who recorded many abrasions and bruises on his chest, arms, legs and face, a soft bruise on his head and a concussion. After that, he appealed to the investigating authorities and demanded an investigation.

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