Ott Tammik, ERR News
Russian authorities on Thursday detained ERR correspondent Igor Taro, who was filming for ETV in Pskov oblast, citing stricter media regulations due to the country's approaching presidential elections.
Taro had interviewed Putin's regional campaign representative and a local representative of the Communist Party, and some community members. He said he would not describe the filmed footage as sensitive material.
The journalist has now been freed and taken to the Estonian consulate, but he will be tried by a Russian court on Friday at 11:00.
Police charged Taro with “illegal filming in foreign territory.”
Taro displayed his valid journalist visa - with which he has previously used on the job on numerous occasions - but police were allegedly not interested in his explanations. He was taken to the local police department, followed by a three-hour interrogation.
The officers asserted that, during elections, camera operators are required to apply for special permission from the Foreign Ministry.
Taro's camera and memory card were confiscated, although police said the equipment would later be returned with all of the data deleted.
Taro managed to telephone Estonia's senior consul in Pskov, Carl Eric Laantee Reintamm, who promptly arrived at the constabulary.
ETV news chief Urmet Kook said that the incident demonstrates that Russian authorities fear objective media coverage of the presidential election. "Can you imagine a situation in which, during the Estonian presidential election, a Russian journalist would be arrested and his or her equipment confiscated?" asked Kook.
ERR Journalist Detained in Russia for Filming During Election Period