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Russia Expels ABC Reporters After Interview with Chechen<P>By Steven Lee Myers THE NEW YORK TIMES <P>MOSCOW <P>

Russia Expels ABC Reporters
After Interview with Chechen

By Steven Lee Myers


Russia announced Tuesday that it was barring journalists from ABC News from working here, effectively expelling a foreign news organization for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s step came in retaliation for ABC’s broadcast of an interview with Shamil Basayev, the Chechen rebel leader who has ordered or carried out some of the worst terrorist acts in the country’s history, including the school siege in Beslan last September that left 330 people dead.

The decision underscored not only Russia’s sensitivity to foreign perceptions of the war in Chechnya, but also a seething and evidently growing antipathy toward the United States and other countries viewed as hostile towards Russia.

Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov, had already called the network an “outlaw” and ordered the military to cease any contact with it after the interview, featured on the ABC News program “Nightline” on Thursday. The Foreign Ministry took the unusual step of summoning the top American diplomat in Moscow the next day to complain formally.

The ministry went further on Tuesday. In a statement published on its Web site and repeated on state television by its deputy spokesman, Boris N. Malakhov, it said Russia would not renew the accreditations of journalists working for ABC once they expire. Foreign journalists cannot work legally in Russia without the accreditation.

In the meantime, the statement said no officials would cooperate with the network, saying the interview amounted to “propagandizing terrorism.”

The Kremlin under President Vladimir V. Putin has long faced criticism for tightening state control over the media in Russia, especially when it comes to coverage of political opposition and the second war in Chechnya, which began nearly six years ago and grinds on still.

It was the first time, however, that the Russian government directly — and openly — singled out an entire news organization for its reporting.