Ukraine police grab church video from Russian TV crew

Other News Materials 18 July 2008 20:21 (UTC +04:00)

Ukrainian police confiscated videotape shot by a Russian television crew for a programme about a dispute within the Orthodox Christian church, reported dpa.

The incident took place at Borispil airport in the Ukrainian capital Kiev after Artem Shirokov, a reporter for the Moscow-based TVTs television channel, attempted to board an aircraft home.

Ukrainian customs officers searching Shirokov's effects took into custody five videotapes shot by the Russian journalist and his crew of interviews with leaders of Ukraine's Orthodox Christian church.

Ukraine's Orthodox Christian church is split into factions, one loyal to Kiev, one loyal to Moscow, and one loyal to Rome. The upcoming TVTs report allegedly focused on additional new cracks in the religious community.

The Ukrainian government intercepted the tapes in order to prevent airing of a news programme undermining the unity of the Orthodox Christian church in Ukraine, Shirkov told reporters.

A Russian diplomat arrived on the scene, but the Ukrainians citing a need to review them for possible illegal material refused to return the tapes to the Russians.

The former Soviet public's media protection laws are broad, but in recent years a rise in hate crimes has place media making public touchy religious information under increased scrutiny.

Ukrainian government prior to 2004 routinely censored national media to excise information critical of authorities.

Many Russian television stations, TVTs among them, routinely broadcast reports questioning Ukraine's right to exist or declaring ethnic Russians repressed by the Ukrainian government. Much of Russian television is readily viewable in Ukraine.

Ukrainian customs would next week inform the TVTs Russian crew on when they might receive the tapes back, but gave no indication on when the video materials might actually be returned, according to the report.

TVTs is controlled and its editorial content is dictated by Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzkhkov, an outspoken critic of Ukrainian independance and advocate of the return of part or all of Ukraine to Russia's control. Ukraine declared him persona non grata last month. dpa sbk sc