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Ukraine bans Russian reporter from war zone

July 12, 2016

Ukraine on Tuesday stripped the military accreditation of a Russian reporter with an independent paper for allegedly revealing the position of Kiev’s forces in the separatist east.

The SBU National Security Service said Yulia Polukhina of Novaya Gazeta — an outlet highly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin — used the paper’s website to publish sensitive video coverage of the 26-month war.

“The decision was made because she had disclosed Ukrainian soldiers’ positions on the front line,” SBU spokeswoman Olena Gitlyanskaby told AFP by phone.

Journalists have to receive special permits from both the SBU and Kiev military officials before they can cover a pro-Russian insurgency that has claimed nearly 9,500 lives.

Novaya Gazeta on Friday published an eight-minute video of holes in a devastated industrial hangar used by Ukrainian snipers to fire at separatists near their de facto capital of Donetsk.

Polukhina said in the footage that she was reporting from the hotspot town of Avdiivka that sits just north of Donetsk.

She also filmed a wounded Ukrainian soldier — one of two who died just days before the video was released.

That coverage caused outrage in Ukraine that saw Polukhina accused by numerous bloggers of being a Russian spy.

There was no immediate response from the Russian reporter about Ukraine’s decision. Polukhina may remain in Ukraine but no longer enter the battle zone.

She had earlier insisted that none of the Ukrainian soldiers with whom she was embedded had ever asked her to stop filming at any time.

A February 2015 truce has done little to halt one of Europe’s bloodiest conflicts since the 1990s Balkans Wars.

Both fighters and civilians die on a nearly daily basis from shells and rockets fired from distant positions that often end up destroying city homes.

Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial east revolted against Kiev’s pro-Western government in April 2014.

Kiev and the West have accused Russia of supporting the rebels with weapons and deploying their own troops across the border — both claims that Moscow denies.

Ukraine has previously irritated Moscow by kicking out dozens of Russian state media reporters whom Kiev accuses of providing a highly biased picture of the war.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.