STEPANAKERT—The government of Azerbaijan has declared a number of Russian journalists as personae non gratae after a visit by those journalists to Artsakh. The foreign ministry in Baku maintains a so-called “blacklist” wherein anyone who visits Artsakh without permission from the Azeri government is purportedly banned from visiting Azerbaijan in the future.
The group of journalists expressed their views about the matter after learning of their status as personae non gratae.
Journalist Anastasia Karimova said on her Facebook page: “A trip to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic cost us getting blacklisted by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. I could not imagine that in the space of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States], especially in the Caucasus, especially in an unrecognized republic, there can be such quality of infrastructure and such level of political competition and transparency in public administration. Karabakh seems to me more interesting than the advertised ‘Georgian miracle.’”
Journalists Alexander Shmelev, Dmitry Bavyrin, Marina Skorikova and Svetlana Shmeleva were also blacklisted by Baku.
Among those who are now prohibited from entering Azerbaijan are the Chairman of the Uruguayan Parliament, various members of the European Parliament, members of the National Assembly of France, a group of deputies of the Russian parliament, members of parliament from Argentina, Slovakia, Canada, members of the House of Lords of the UK, and many others.
Opera singer Montserrat Caballe was also included in the list, together with blogger Artemy Lebedev, journalists Ilya Azar and Sergey Butman, and journalists from the Financial Times, the British Times, the Washington Post, various Russian daily newspapers, and more.
Most individuals who have been blacklisted as such have accepted it as a “badge of honor.”