The scandal over Radio Liberty journalist Andrei Babitsky’s interview with terrorist Shamil Basaev shown by ABC News stirred up Russian politicians and the Foreign Ministry. Colonel Vyacheslav Sedov, chief of the press service of the Defense Ministry, told WPS that on August 31, he received an order to cancel ABC News’ accreditation. He also noted that journalist Andrei Babitsky, who interviewed Basaev, is considered as persona non grata. When asked if Radio Liberty will lose accreditation, Sedov said that, “this principle will be applied to all media, which support terrorists and use the policy of double standards”.
Sedov noted that no precedents involving canceling of accreditation of foreign TV channels has ever happened in the post-Soviet history of the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry. Sedov said, “We seek to be open. We are glad that many foreign media sources ask us for help. We do not ignore such requests.” He noted that official accreditation of foreign journalists is the task of the information and media department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Defense Ministry uses its lists of journalists to make proper accreditation with the Defense Ministry. The point is that owing to security reasons foreign journalists need to get permission from the chief of the General Staff if they want to visit a military unit, a garrison, a military institute, a military registration and enlistment office or a warship.
It should be noted that the Defense Ministry has not forgotten the secrecy traditions of the Soviet school. However, Babitsky’s interview testifies that the Russian security services, including the military intelligence service, cannot work efficiently. The US channel managed to find Basaev, and Russian security officers failed to do this despite the rich experience of the KGB. The question is if Russia has skilled specialists who could counter terrorism.