MOSCOW Nov 6 Russia apologised on Wednesday to
two foreign journalists who were repeatedly questioned and
detained by police during a trip to report on the 2014 Winter
Olympics preparations in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Norwegian broadcaster TV2, the country's official games
broadcaster, said its journalists Oeystein Bogen and Aage Aune
had been questioned, detained and searched by police who claimed
that one of them had been using drugs.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to
Reuters that local law enforcement officials abused their posts
in the incidents last week, leading to "a series of unwarranted
actions towards the citizens of Norway".
"In this regard we apologise to Mr Bogen and Mr Aune. The
current situation will undoubtedly be worked out in detail and
those guilty will receive the corresponding punishment.
"We would like to assure you that the executive authorities
of the Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to
avoid the repetition of similar cases in the future," it said.
Russia is spending more than $50 billion on preparations for
the 2014 Games. President Vladimir Putin wants to use the Winter
Olympics to show to the world a modern face of Russia more than
20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
A statement by Human Rights Watch said the journalists had
been detained several times travelling in and out of the Sochi
region, which borders the volatile North Caucasus.
One of them was forced to drive to a local drug clinic after
officers claimed he might be on narcotics. This incident ended
only when another officer arrived at the centre saying there had
been a 'misunderstanding', HRW said.
Russia said that a technical mistake had provided false
information about the journalists to law enforcement officials.
Russia ranks 148th out of 179 countries on the World Press
Freedom index compiled by the journalist watchdog Reporters
(Reporting By Thomas Grove; editing by Ralph Boulton)