Russia bans ABC following interview with Chechen rebel leader

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

The American Broadcasting Company's (ABC) accreditation in Russia will not be renewed by the Russian Government following an interview with Shamil Basayev on ABC.

Basayev is a Chechen rebel leader — who seeks an end to Russian rule of Chechnya — and has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist incidents, including the Beslan school siege where 344 civilians - 172 of them children - were killed. The interview with Basayev was conducted by freelance journalist Andrei Babitsky and was shown during ABC's Nightline.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman said: "A decision was taken that at the end of their expiry period, the accreditations of the workers of this company will not be renewed."

Initially, the Foreign Ministry had opposed this action, which was pushed by the Defence Ministry. After Basayev's interview, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said that ABC was "persona non grata" and described it as a "rogue tv station".

In the interview, Basayev said that he was responsible for the Beslan atrocity and that further Beslan-style attacks would take place.