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Television journalists prevented from filming exterior of missile disposal plant, harassed, detained briefly by police

(CJES/IFEX) - The agency Skrytaya Kamera (Yekaterinburg's Channel 4 television) has spent 20 days waiting for a response from the Perm Kirovsky district prosecutor's office to its report on an incident involving a group of its reporters, which occurred in Perm on 20 April 2007, the agency's founder Robert Karapetyan told CJES on May 10.

The incident occurred when Karapetyan and his colleague, Ekaterina Tymoshenko, were working on a report for Yekaterinburg television about the disposal of missiles.

"We were recording an interview with prominent Perm environmentalist Roman Yushkov, using as backdrop the Perm Kirov Gunpowder Plant, where, according to our information, missiles were being disposed of. Ten minutes later, the plant's security came with the plant's deputy security director Yaroslav Shumukhin, who demanded that we stop working. He was citing some secret document stating that the plant was a secret object and could not be filmed from a distance of less than 100 meters. When we asked to see the document, the security official refused to show it. They demanded that we get into their car and go with them. They did not say where they were going to take us. When we refused to comply, Shumikhin called the police. Armed policemen came, put us into their car and took us to a police station, where we spent 2.5 hours," said Karapetyan.

Karapetyan said the journalists were prohibited from using mobile phones, had their cameras taken from them, and were asked to write an explanation of their actions. The journalists were only released after the Perm media intervened. The head of the Kirov interior affairs department reused to comment on the journalists' detention.

"In my seven years of work for Skrytaya Kamera, this is the first incident, and we believe it is connected to the issue we were working on. The thing is that missile disposal costs a lot of money, both to Russia and the U.S., and the authorities do not want to advertise it. It was made clear to us that we should not address this issue at all. For this reason, we do not expect the people who detained us to be punished. We will likely only get a formal response," said Karapetyan.

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