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Russia: Natalia Morar's Domodedovo Ordeal

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Moldova, Russia, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Health, Human Rights, International Relations, Law, Media & Journalism, Politics, Protest

Here's an excerpt from a news alert issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists [1] (CPJ) on Feb. 28 regarding the case of the New Times’ journalist Natalia Morar (LJ user natmorar):

[…] A citizen of Moldova, Morar was barred from entering Russia in December on a secret Federal Security Service order and deported to Chisinau. A month later, Russian Embassy officials in Chisinau presented her with a one-paragraph statement that explained her deportation by citing a 1996 law, which says that authorities can refuse entry to foreign nationals “for the purpose of ensuring the defensive capability or security of the state or public order, or protecting the health of the general public.”

Last week, Morar married her colleague Ilya Barabanov, a Russian citizen, and tried to enter Russia yesterday as his spouse. She was denied entry again and placed in the airport’s transit zone. Authorities told Morar she was not allowed to enter Russia but provided no legal documents to justify the detention; they only kept referring to an “order from above.” Barabanov, who is allowed to enter, decided to stay with his wife. […]

Due to Morar's health problems, she and Barabanov (LJ user kotoeb) decided to return to Moldova on March 1.

Below is the translation of Morar's first blog post since her departure from Russia [2] (RUS), published on March 4:

Now this whole story seems totally distant and not about us.
I will not repeat everything – honestly, I don't want to at all…

I'm very tired. For the majority of those who kept trying to pour shit over me all these months, and especially over Ilya and me these past few days, this is nothing but a matter of politics and pseudo-patriotism. “Don't shit where you've been given shelter” and other things like that.

You are talking of politics, you are talking of the state's sovereign right, you are making bold statements – anonymously, however – and meanwhile I cannot comprehend the simplest of things…

I still haven't received an answer from anyone as to why I cannot live in a country that has long become my home. My dearest person and my closest friends are here… I can't understand this at all.

I'll just say this – our marriage with Ilya is not fake, we've been together for a long time. The Domodedovo story was not a staged in advance PR action for the New Times magazine, we were acting on our own behalf, we are two adult people. Many are asking me now why we had to do this show. I won't try to make them change their minds. It was not a show for me. For me, this is the country in which I am not allowed to live. For me, this is the person I'm not allowed to be with. For me, this is the magazine I'm not allowed to work for.

If I had been stronger, I would have stayed at Domodedovo for a month.

I'm feeling better. Mama is feeling worse. We had two anonymous phone calls to our home phone number, with threats against me. Both were placed at night. Both times mama answered the phone. Yesterday we had to call an ambulance to resuscitate her. This I will never forgive. I could've forgiven other things, but this – never.

A huge thank you to all those who were close and who are with me now. There are still more of you than all of them added together.

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