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French journalist expelled for interviewing opposition members

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, February 13, 2012 - The expulsion of prominent French journalist and author Anne Nivat from Russia today, on alleged violation of her visa status, indicates an increasingly restrictive environment for journalists in the lead-up to Russia's presidential election, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"We call on Russian authorities to allow Anne Nivat to return to the country and report on the important events in the run-up to March presidential elections without fear of reprisal," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Canceling Nivat's business visa because she interviewed members of the Russian opposition is an unacceptable reprisal for doing her job as a journalist."

According to local press reports, authorities interrogated Nivat for four hours on Friday and informed her that she had violated the status of her business visa by meeting with the opposition. Authorities cancelled her visa and gave her three days to leave the country. Nivat, an expert on Russia's North Caucasus with years of experience reporting in Russia, had been conducting interviews for a new book.

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