Russian ambassador not welcome at press club

By Tom Ravlic

March 15, 2022

Alexey Pavlovsky
Russia’s Ambassador to Australia Dr. Alexey Pavlovsky. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Russia’s ambassador to Australia will not be addressing the National Press Club, after the club decided to withdraw its invitation following the intensification of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s chargé d`affaires, Volodymyr Shalkivskyi, spoke at the press club last Thursday and Alexey Pavlovsky, the Russian ambassador to Australia, was also due to address the club.

The press club said the invitation to both individuals was sent at a point in time before the Russian forces began bombing civilian targets and with the increasing number of allegations of war crimes. The change in the state of affairs on the ground in Ukraine was a key reason for withdrawing the invite.

“The club stands by its principles of encouraging free speech and promoting a balanced national discussion of the big issues of the day and reserves the right to revisit this decision at a later date,”  a statement from the National Press Club posted to its website said.

Russia’s parliament has also passed new laws that impact on the freedom of speech of domestic and foreign journalists wanting to report on developments in Ukraine within Russia’s borders. Journalists can face imprisonment for factual reporting in Russian.

“The National Press Club is a vigorous champion of media freedom and strongly condemns the media censorship in Russia. Under new laws in Russia, both local and international journalists face charges of high treason and 15-20 year jail terms for reporting the facts,” the National Press Club said. “This situation should not be tolerated and has no place in a democratic society.”

Press Club board member and Nine newspapers chief political correspondent David Crowe took to Twitter to amplify the announcement, saying that the Russian ambassador could use other ways of communicating the Russian Federation’s views.

“He can call a press conference at any time. But a national platform for a 30-minute speech? No,” Crowe said.


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