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Polish authorities detain, deport Ukrainian journalists probing Russia trade to EU

Polish authorities detained, seized equipment, and deported two journalists from the Ukrainian news agency Raion.in.ua who were investigating cargo transportation from Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast.
polish russian trade march 2024
Trains on the Russian-Polish border. Credit: Ukrpravda
Polish authorities detain, deport Ukrainian journalists probing Russia trade to EU

According to the report from Raion.in.ua, their editor Yurii Konkevych and videographer Oleksandr Piliuk were detained on 7 March while documenting freight trains and vehicles crossing the border between Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast and Poland. The journalists were brought to the Dorohusk-Yahodyn border crossing point on the evening of 9 March.

It’s the second case of Polish police interfering with the work of investigative journalists. On 28 February, Polish officers arrested Mykhailo Tkach and cameraman Yaroslav Bondarenko near the Polish-Belarusian border. The journalist team was recording a segment on the transit of goods between Poland, Russia, and Belarus amid a traffic blockade by Polish farmers protesting Ukraine.

The news outlet Raion.in.ua aimed to investigate cargo transportation, assess the freight traffic, and determine whether Polish or Russian transport was used for border crossings. They also planned to interview eyewitnesses and experts to evaluate the scale of such trade.

“Raion.Zakordоn (another department in the Raion.in.ua that writes about international affairs) went to northern Poland, to the border with the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, to see how gas and grain from Russia still come to Europe through Poland. We did not encounter any roadblocks of Polish farmers there, but instead, saw wagons of the Russian Railways,” Konkevych said.

The Polish police detained the journalists and confiscated their smartphones, cameras, a MacBook, memory cards, microphones, and power banks, according to the journalists.

“Polish police also did not allow us to call Ukraine, and the Internal Security Agency labeled us as persons threatening Poland’s national security and deported us.”

The police cited the reason for the detention as the “journalists photographing critical infrastructure, specifically Russian liquefied gas wagons, for too long.”

The police also denied the journalists’ requests to call the consul, the newsroom, and relatives, without explaining.

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