UNESCO suspends Russia from World Press Freedom Day Conference
The UNESCO Secretariat did not allow Russia to participate in a conference on media freedom on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) secretariat rejected Russia's application to participate in the organization's conference on media freedom matters from May 2 till May 5, the Foreign Ministry in Russia said on Monday.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "World Press Freedom Day, declared in 1993 by the UN General Assembly, is celebrated annually on May 3. On this occasion, UNESCO, the specialized agency of the UN system for international information cooperation, traditionally holds issue-related conferences. Unfortunately, Russia was not permitted to participate in this year's event."
The statement noted that under a "far-fetched pretext" and on behalf of the forum's organizers, the UNESCO secretariat rejected Moscow's application to hold a special session on the influence of large IT companies on mass media operation, as well as on experts' speeches at panel discussions.
"The motivation for the refusal of alleged 'non-compliance' with the requirements of the conference and an already compiled list of speakers is wide open to criticism ... Obviously, the UNESCO secretariat has followed a group of well-known, extremely biased countries promoting the policy of 'canceling' Russia in the international arena and intending to purge the information field from points of view differing from ultra-liberal attitudes of the 'collective West'," the statement added.
World Press Freedom Day, which annually takes place on May 3 since 1994, has the purpose of reminding governments of the right to freedom of expression. This year's conference is being held in Punta del Este, southeastern Uruguay, and is thematically oriented to the issue of journalism under digital siege.