The Greek journalists Aggelos Provolisianos (L) and Triantis Vangelis (R) at the International Airport Chisinau. Photo: BIRN/Courtesy of Cornelia Cozonac, CIJM
Moldovan Border Police on Wednesday evening detained two Greek investigative journalists, Aggelos Provolisianos and Triantis Vangelis, at the country’s main airport. They were questioned for more than half an hour about their reasons for coming to Moldova before being released.
“First they told us, you cannot enter our country. You need accreditation, you should have known that. They kept us for about 30 or 40 minutes and let us go,” Vangelis told BIRN.
He said the police also wanted to keep their laptops, but finally released them and allowed the duo to enter Moldova.
“They said, OK, this is your lucky day, you can go now. They did not even apologize,” the Greek journalist added.
Only after making some calls in Greece and the intervention of the Greek Foreign Ministry were the Greek journalists released and allowed to enter the country.
The journalists, who are working for the Greek website Documento, were investigating a network of paedophiles with links in Moldova and Greece, in connection to accusations made against a politician in Greece.
Both Greek and Danish courts have issued verdicts on paedophile-related cases related to Moldova, which is where the victims were recruited.
The police told the journalists that they were not allowed in the country because they had no accreditation to carry out journalistic activities.
“The border police asked them to explain what the topic of their investigation was, and what they sought in Moldova,” Cornelia Cozonac, the head of the Centre of Investigative Journalism in Moldova, CIJM told BIRN. Cozonac had been expecting to meet the two Greek journalists at the airport.
She told BIRN that, apart from Russian journalists who are not traditionally not welcome to Moldova, Ukrainian journalists have also been interrogated and asked to present their personal computers at the airport.
Moldovan Police Border spokesperson Raisa Novitski told BIRN that it was more of a misunderstanding, and the issue was quickly solved.
“It was just a routine control. They did not present all the papers they needed for journalistic activities at the start. The police asked them some questions to confirm their visit to Moldova. But things were sorted out quickly,” she added.
Over the past two years, dozens of foreign journalists have been banned from entering Moldova, mostly Russian reporters, accused of spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda.