To the Ambassador of Ukraine in Finland

Dear Sir,

My name is Mikael Storsjö. I am a Finnish citizen, by profession an entrepreneur and journalist. My reason to address you is my unlucky situation, being detained by the Naval Frontier Guard in Iliychevsk, waiting for deportation to Georgia. I respectfully ask you to step into urgent measures in order to solve this problem and prevent such an action.

My present location is due to a travel to Georgia during last 3 weeks. I entered Ukraine August 9th in Kiev, went then forwards to Odessa, from where I took a flight to Tblisi August 11th. My return journey went by ferry from the Georgian port Poti to Ilyichevsk, where I arrived yesterday, August 26th. At my arrival I was detained by the Naval Frontier Guard, because I am not allowed to enter Ukraine, the prohibition being set to years 2005-2010.

The reason for my prohibition to enter Ukraine is due to some disputes I have had with the Russian Federation in the field of Freedom of Expression. The Russian black-list of “persona non grata” seems now to be adopted in Ukraine, to my utmost surprise. In October 2004, I started to host the Chechen web site Kavkaz-Center in Helsinki and Stockholm, which caused some political reactions from Russia, among other things the Russian Ambassador to Sweden made efforts to prohibit the site. However, the Justice Chancellor of Sweden stated in his response that this web site does not violate any Swedish or European law and shall be allowed according to the rules of Freedom of Expression. Today, I still host the web site in Helsinki and Stockholm, with a mirror site in Lithuania, where the Supreme Court accordingly found publishing of this site to be in line with the Lithuanian code of Freedom of Expression. Anyway, after these incidents I was refused visa to the Russian Federation.

I have never been convicted for any crime in Finland, Ukraine, Russia or any other country. I have visited Ukraine several times before my incident with the Russian Federation, and my records are completely clean.

It is a sad and well-known fact, that the Russian Federation has a view upon Human Rights and Freedom of Expression which deviates from so-called European values. One measure of oppression is denying critical journalists from Europe visa to Russia. There are already some tens of Finnish journalists facing this oppression besides me, in Europe probably well over one hundred.

I doubt it being in the interests of the Ukrainian government to be a tool for extending this oppression outside the borders of the Russian Federation. I dearly hope my treatment is an unfortunate mistake, which will be corrected – urgently – as soon as you become aware of the situation. A western journalist writing extensively about Russian abuse towards Ukraine (election frauds, blackmailing through energy export, the upcoming dispute around Sevastopol, etc.) is likely to be black-listed in Russia. It goes far beyond my understanding, if Ukraine maintenance a system that denies such a journalist entrance to Ukraine as well. Human Rights defenders and NGO activists, such as me, are the best friends Ukraine may find within the European Union, because we care.

I return back to my case. I am supposed to be deported to Poti by a ferry today at 22 pm. According to recent news, the Russian army is tightening its power in Poti, even denying US humanitarian help to be unloaded in the port. I find Poti to be an extremely bad and inappropriate destination for me – a person already having problems with the Russian perception of Human Rights. Can Ukraine guarantee me protection against those Russian “peace keeping” forces that have invaded the port of Poti and already destroyed a considerable part of it? Deporting an EU citizen to a foreign war zone sounds very badly considered.

I want home to Finland, and I want it now! I appeal to you that you step into urgent actions to let me leave Ukraine by a flight to Finland. The Finnish Embassy has declared that they will ensure that I leave Ukraine in due order.

The question about Ukrainian policy in adopting Russian black-listing is a matter that you can solve later. Anyway, I will be most surprised if my entrance to Ukraine will be stopped in future, it would raise serious questions about the Ukrainian standpoint to European values.

Sincerely,

Mikael Storsjö
Ilyichevsk, Ukraine
GSM/SMS: +358 41 524 2373

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