Moldova bans Russian journalists, says documentary about Crimea not welcome

Two Russian journalists planning to travel to Moldova to present a documentary on Crimea have been banned from the country for five years, authorities said Thursday.

It was the latest move by Moldova authorities to limit the presence of Russians in the former Soviet republic.

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The ban affects Dmitry Kiselev, head of Russia's main state news agency, and Andrei Kondrashov, who made the documentary "Crimea. The road home," Interior Ministry spokeswoman Alina Merlici said.

They are "on a list of foreign residents whose access is banned in Moldova," she said.

Russia opposes efforts by Moldova to seek closer ties with the European Union, and the government is concerned about attempts by Moscow to generate instability. Moldova recently approved a pro-European coalition government.

Late Wednesday, airport authorities also banned a Russian television crew from entering Moldova and sent them back to Moscow.

They were traveling to Moldova to cover elections this weekend in the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia, a region where most voters disapprove of Moldova's European aspirations and want closer links to Russia.

After the incident, Russia state television Rossia-24 chief editor Yevgeny Bekasov accused Moldova of displaying "aggressive and hostile behavior" toward Russian journalists in comments made to RIA Novosti news agency.

The Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service told the head of the Russian Novosti-Moldova agency, who was organizing the viewing of the Crimea documentary, that the film wasn't welcome in Moldova.

President Nicolae Timofti said in a television interview this week that he was concerned about what he called "threats to regional security generated by the Kremlin," and called on the foreign minister to ban Russian lawmakers except for those on official visits.

He was referring to a visit by three Russian lawmakers who openly supported a pro-Russian candidate in Gagauzia.