January 15, 2014
Human rights and journalism groups speak out about my expulsion
I’d like to take a moment to thank all those who’ve expressed support for me in the past few days, and in particular the Russian human rights organization Memorial, which sent this letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Here’s the original (which you’ll have to click to enlarge properly.) My English translation follows.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Russian Federation Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square 32/34
Respected Sergei Viktorovich!
We have learned about the ban on entry into Russia for five years imposed on the American journalist, David Satter. This has provoked a sharp reaction from society – in Russia and abroad. David Satter has written about Russia for many years. The ban on travel for him to Russia in essence amounts to a ban for him on the practice of his profession – he is, after all, obliged to check and recheck information.
If Satter ceases to write about Russia, this will be bad not only for him but for our country. There are not many foreign correspondents whose writing is as competent and balanced.
We believe that the decision on the ban on entry is absolutely inconsistent with the minor and apparently unintentional administrative violation of which he is accused (several days lateness in filing for a visa.) We hope that you will find the means to correct this situation.
Chairman of the Directorate
Update: I’m also gratified by the support of groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, which said my expulsion was “a menacing omen for the thousands of foreign journalists due to attend” the Olympic Games in Sochi. The president of the International Federation of Journalists Jim Boumelha said my expulsion undermines Russia’s “commitment to freedom of expression and basic human rights,” while his counterpart at the European Federation of Journalists, Mogens Blicher, said: ”Satter has done nothing wrong, but it seems that the Russian government has taken this opportunity to rid themselves of a journalist who dares to question their methods and reveal the truth about wrongdoings.” Reporters Without Borders has also issued a supportive statement, saying the group was “shocked by the disproportion between Satter’s alleged offence and the punishment … Like other foreign reporters who have been expelled in recent years, Satter is known for being very critical of the Putin regime. This just reinforces the impression that this ban is linked to his activities as a journalist.”
January 14, 2014
There are a number of points that need to be made in reference to the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding the decision to refuse me a visa and bar me from the country for five years.
1. During the entire period of the discussion of my visa, I have complied completely with all instructions from the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding registration and application for a new journalist’s visa.
2. I arrived in Moscow on September 7, 2013 to work as an adviser for Radio Liberty. At the time, I had a business visa which allowed me to remain in the country for 90 days out of each 180. Shortly after receiving accreditation, I made preparations to convert my business visa which expired on January 14, 2014 to a journalist’s visa which provided for permanent residency.
3. On November 18, 2013, the visa bureau in Prague which services the Russian Embassy refused to accept the letter of invitation from the Russian Foreign Ministry on the grounds that it was improperly prepared. On November 19, the Russian Consulate in Prague accepted the letter but a day was lost reducing my ability to complete business in Prague. The period of the invitation ended on November 21, 2013. The Russian Foreign Ministry advised me that if I arrived in Russia on November 21, the last day of the invitation, which provided the basis for a one time entry visa, a new invitation would be given to me on November 22 which could on that day be presented to the Russian Immigration Service that would in turn issue the needed journalist’s visa. Under these circumstances, there would be no gap in time and the bureaucratic requirements would be satisfied.
4. On November 22, the Foreign Ministry said that my invitation was not ready. They assured me that this was not a problem and that my visa had been approved. On Monday, it was still not ready. On Tuesday, the invitation was issued but the immigration service did not accept it on the grounds that I had overstayed my visa. The delay was created by the deliberate actions of the Foreign Ministry which did not deliver my invitation on November 22.
5. The Foreign Ministry in their statement state that I overstayed my visa after November 21. The invitation which I received on November 26 was dated November 22 (see facsimile copy of the document below). In other words, it is consistent with what I was told – that I could arrive in Moscow on the 21st and pick up the invitation letter on the 22nd. The reason why the invitation was picked up on the 26th was because there was a delay created by the Foreign Ministry. This was followed by a weekend and then one day of further delay.
6. On the advice of the Foreign Ministry, I took steps to rectify the situation that they had created. I went to court, paid a fine for overstaying my visa and left the country. The Foreign Ministry advised me to start the visa application process again and I went to Kiev.
7. On December 12 in Kiev, I was notified that the visa had been approved and that I would be receiving a number shortly. On December 16, I was told again that the visa was approved. On December 23, I was given a number for the Foreign Ministry invitation – 3032073 – and a number for the telex – 87897/837.
8. On December 24, I went to the Russian Embassy in Kiev with the number of my invitation and the number of the telex from the Foreign Ministry. The Consul in the Russian Embassy said that he had the number of the invitation but no invitation. I asked him if this had ever happened before. He said no. He made two more attempts to locate the invitation without success. I called the Foreign Ministry and spoke to Lev Lvovich (whose last name I don’t know.) He said that the visa was ready and I should go back to the embassy on the following day and speak to a senior diplomat, Alexei Gruby.
9. On December 25, I called Gruby to arrange a meeting. He told me that he had a statement to read to me. It said: “The competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable. Your application for entry into Russia is denied.”
10. On December 26, the U.S. Embassy issued a note of protest and the fact of the visa denial was confirmed. Attempts for three weeks to learn the reason for the refusal were unsuccessful. The Foreign Ministry stated that “according to Russian law, the reasons for refusals are not divulged.”
11. On January 14, 2013, the Foreign Ministry, ignoring its earlier claim about the demands of Russian law, issued a statement saying that I was banned from Russia for five years because I had overstayed my visa by five days. They did not mention that they were responsible for not providing the promised invitation that would have made it possible to obtain a visa on November 22 and, in that way, avoid any violation. There is also no mention of the fact that a number was issued on December 23, a month after the incident by the Foreign Ministry for a new invitation to be taken to the Russian Embassy in Kiev.
12. The real reason for my refusal was the one given by Alexei Gruby in Kiev. I was expelled from the country at the demand of the security services. This is an ominous precedent for all journalists and for freedom of speech in Russia.
I can be reached through the contact information above, or via email.
My address is “satter [dot] david [at] gmail [dot] com”
December 24, 2013
My film, “Age of Delirium,” was shown tonight in the Maiden (Independence Square) in Kiev. The film has now been translated into Ukrainian. An appreciative audience watched the film sitting on hard benches or standing in -4°C cold. A new Russian language edition of the book Age of Delirium, on which the film is based, will be released in late February by the Algoritm Publishing House, a subsidiary of EKSMO.
October 13, 2013
The next scheduled screening of my film, “Age of Delirium” is in Budapest, Hungary on October 24 at 6 pm at the Puskin Cinema, 1053 Budapest Kossuth Lajos utca 18. To register: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have moved to Moscow and will be living here for the near future to advise the Russian Service of Radio Liberty and work on a new book about Russia under Putin. I have been an admirer of Radio Liberty and its unique role in Russia ever since arriving in Moscow in 1976 as the correspondent of the Financial Times of London.
My congratulations to the staff of the Radio Liberty Russian Service for its excellent coverage of the 20th anniversary of the abolition of the Russian parliament in October, 1993. Here is the link to my contribution. In Russian, unfortunately no translation at the moment. http://www.svoboda.org/content/article/25124710.html
October 1, 2013
I have a long piece on “Russia’s Anti-American Foreign Policy” on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2013
The following essay for the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s E-Notes is my answer to Putin’s op ed piece in The New York Times. http://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/10/curse-russian-exceptionalism
June 15, 2013
I am very pleased to announce that my film, “Age of Delirium” has won the Van Gogh Grand Jury Prize of the Amsterdam International Film Festival. The film was chosen out of hundreds of submissions from over 20 countries. It is based on my book: “Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union.” My thanks to all of those who sent their congratulations and best wishes.
A long excerpt from my book “It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past” has been published in the June issue of the monthly magazine, “Sovershenno Sekretno” (“Top Secret”).
My article on the serious questions raised by Russian behavior in the matter of the Boston Marathon bombings suspect has evoked a wide response.
“Age of Delirium” will be screened in Berlin on July 10, at 6 pm at the Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED Diktatur, (Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the East German Dictatorship), Kronenstrasse 5, 10117 Berlin. The screening will be followed by a discussion in which I will be joined by Professor Jorg Baberowski, a historian at Humboldt University and German expert on Eastern Europe.
March 1, 2013
“It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past” is now out in paperback. The British historian Andrew Roberts wrote: “David Satter has written a classic of its kind, investigating the psychological reactions that modern Russians feel towards the crimes of their Communist forbears.” (The American Spectator) Andrew Gardner said the book was “a meticulous, sweeping and wrenching history of Russia’s burial of Soviet crimes. It is also a sensitive, compelling and convincing exploration of the importance of memory.” (The European Voice) Jedd Beaudoin wrote, “David Satter delivers one of the most harrowing stories of all time.” (PopMatters).