Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!

× Learn more
No, thanks Photo: Abbas Atilay
back  |  printBookmark and Share

Why Did Kyiv Banish a Prominent Austrian Journalist?

ORF’s Christian Wehrschuetz may have angered officials with his critical reporting.

12 March 2019

The reasons behind Ukraine’s decision to hand Austrian journalist Christian Wehrschuetz (pictured) a one-year entry ban are getting more convoluted.


Initially, Ukraine told Austrian authorities that Wehrschuetz, the Kyiv bureau chief for Austrian public broadcaster ORF, was barred because his camera crew crossed the Kerch Strait bridge linking Russia to Russian-controlled Ukraine in violation of Ukrainian law. Wehrschuetz said he never set foot on the bridge while his crew filmed the segment last July, RFE/RL reports.


Then, on 9 March, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said the ban was justified by the need to ensure Wehrschuetz’s safety, citing his concerns about “threats to his life in Ukraine,” the Kyiv Post wrote.


The SBU said Wehrschuetz feared attacks from Ukrainian nationalists angry about his critical reporting on the government, RFE says.


Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl last week called the decision “an unacceptable act of censorship.” Wehrschuetz vowed to contest the ban, Reuters reported.


After being called on the carpet by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Ukraine’s ambassador to Vienna denied the ban had anything to do with freedom of speech.


Ambassador Oleksandr Scherba said a delegation of Austrian journalists, some known for anti-Ukrainian views, was permitted to enter the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine recently. Those journalists “simply have an elementary respect for Ukraine and its legislation,” while Wehrschuetz didn’t abide by Ukrainian law “and was punished very mildly,” he told Evropeyskaya Pravda, Interfax-Ukraine writes today.



  • “Wehrschuetz is a household name in Austria, known for his often disheveled appearance as well as his reports from the former Yugoslavia,” Reuters writes.


  • In 2011, Wehrschuetz sought to become the general director of ORF with the support of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party.


  • The first deputy chair of the Ukrainian parliament's committee on freedom of speech and information policy, Olga Chervakova, accused Wehrschuetz of pro-Moscow sympathies and claimed he “widely uses Russian propaganda memes,” but provided no examples, RFE writes.
Compiled by Rose Joy Smith
back  |  printBookmark and Share


We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.


Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 


The event will take place on Monday, 25 March at 5 p.m. in the Hollar building of the Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences (Smetanovo nábřeží 6, Praha 1). The event will be in English. 


Attendance is free upon registration - please, fill in the registration form.


Feel free to check out and share the event on Facebook.





Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


© Transitions Online 2019. All rights reserved. ISSN 1214-1615
Published by Transitions o.s., Baranova 33, 130 00 Prague 3, Czech Republic.