Author`s name Michael Simpson

French Fall Into FSB Net

French TV crew trespassed borders of a closed zone
Recently officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained a French television crew and a Russian professor who trespassed the border of the closed area of the city Bolshoi Kamen in Russia's Primorye region. One of the detained, Professor Boris Preobrazhensky from the Far Eastern Geography Institute says  the incident occurred on April 17 when  the film crew was shooting a ground meant for an oil refinery complex construction in the bay of Chazhma.

A group consisting of three journalists from the French national television France 3 is making a report about ecology of Russia's Primorye. The first footage of the crew was about launching of a complex for spent nuclear fuel unloading in the city of Bolshoi Kamen on April 11. On the day when the journalists were detained together with Professor Preobrazhensky, they were looking for a way to the bay of Chazhma to take landscape shooting there. The journalists had visited the site before, but that time the visit was organized by the enterprise DalRAO which was responsible for decontamination of the territory after the explosion of a submarine nuclear reactor in the bay. The crew decided to get back to the place to get more shots from one of the hills around the bay. They asked the professor to take them to the destination.

However, as the professor admitted himself, the territory and the roads in the area changed very much during preparation for the construction. So, the crew unintentionally came to the settlement of Dunai, the zone closed for unauthorized persons, especially foreigners. They saw no signs along the road warning that the place was a closed area. When the French television crew and the professor drew closer to the prohibited zone, they saw a black auto following them. When the crew stopped their car, two FSB officers got out of the black auto and asked them to show their documents. When the TV crew said about the purpose of their visit to the place, the officers explained that they had trespassed the closed zone and asked the people to go away. At that, as the professor told, the FSB officers described how the turning to the bay of Chazhma looked (the turning which the crew and the professor failed to find). 

On their way back, the crew decided to swerve from the main road right on the turning that the officers described with a view to get to the bay and to take some shots. In the words of Professor Preobrazhensky, the place where they stopped for work wasn't a closed area. Nevertheless, the FSB officers who followed the crew detained the journalists and the professor and brought them to police. Police withdrew a cassette where the journalists had shot abandoned houses of the settlement of Dunai and an old diesel submarine lying ashore. Besides, each of the journalists had to pay 1,000 rubles for unauthorized entry of the closed area; the professor was given a warning for providing the French journalists with transport. After a brief investigation, the TV crew was released.

The French journalists themselves refused to comment upon the incident, they explained they were very busy. However, in a telephone conversation they said they had no claims in connection with the incident. Unfortunately, the Pacific Fleet FSB department, that is in charge of the territory of the city Bolshoi Kamen, couldn't be reached for comments upon the situation. 

Anatoly Medetsky
The Vladivostok newspaper