Turkish journalist stuck in Russian airport due to entrance ban

Turkish journalist stuck in Russian airport due to entrance ban

A Turkish journalist is currently stuck in Russia’s Sochi airport, where he had landed in order to transit to Abkhazia.

Fehim Taştekin, the foreign news editor of daily Radikal, had departed for Abkhazia on Sept. 28 to attend ceremonies to be held on Sept. 30, as an official guest of the Abkhazia state. However, when he landed at Adler-Sochi airport, Taştekin learnt that he was banned from entering Russia for five years. He has also been unable to return to Turkey, as all return flights were booked up.

Turkish diplomats and Abkhazia authorities have enabled all contact to be made for the highly-acclaimed journalist, who is known for his particular interest in the Caucasus region.

Taştekin has been in touch with Turkey’s consul in Novorossik, and said Turkish diplomats have not been informed about the reason for his refusal either.

“They said we needed to file a written petition, but we need to wait until Monday for that. Turkey’s Russian consulate has been called as well, but no result has been obtained,” he said.

Since Taştekin’s return will be a deportation, he can’t board a transfer plane via Moscow, meaning he has to wait for the next direct plane from Sochi to Istanbul.

The reason for the ban on Taştekin’s visits to Russia has not been specified by the Russian authorities yet.

When asked about his prediction on possible reasons, Taştekin said it was common knowledge that Russia has taken extraordinary measures regarding the Olympic Games in Sochi, and that his articles on the issue might have prompted the decision.

“This is the only thing I can think of that might irk Russia. The Russian media often interviews me. If there was uneasiness, I wouldn’t have guessed it. But the work of Russian intelligence is hard to understand,” he said.

In a Sept. 16 article published in daily Radikal, Taştekin had likened Sochi to a “concentration camp,” as the heightened security measures due to the Olympics had put huge restraints on residents. He also noted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Caucasus policies, which forcefully assert Moscow’s influence in the region.