YEREVAN, BAKU (Combined Sources)—Photojournalist Diana Markosian, who works for the Bloomberg News Agency, was deported from Baku for being Armenian when she arrived there on assignment from Istanbul.
“I’m very surprised over the incident,” Markosian said in a telephone interview with the Azeri Turan news agency. “For three weeks, we’ve been negotiating with the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry requesting to allow me entrance to Baku. A person in charge asked for 10 days to settle the formalities. He further requested a number of documents including an official letter from Bloomberg, all which were provided.”
“Upon receiving a verbal confirmation allowing my arrival, I traveled to Baku airport, where I was refused entrance because of my Armenian origin, although I’ve never been to Armenia. The Foreign Ministry representative said he’s unable to help me. I would understand it, but why promise something you can’t deliver?” added Markosian.
“Markosian has dual U.S. and Russian citizenship. She came to Baku with her Russian passport. Her documents are all in order,” Emin Huseynov, the director of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, said.
Elkhan Polukhov, the head of the press office for the Azeri Foreign Ministry, said that Markosian did not have accreditation.
Polukhov said the Bloomberg agency had applied to the foreign ministry earlier this month regarding its plans to conduct economic reporting in Azerbaijan. The request was approved.
“Two weeks ago the agency sent a letter of response informing that U.S.-Russian citizen of Armenian descent Diana Markosian would accompany the correspondent as a photographer during the visit to Baku,” said Polukhov.
“Bloomberg management was informed that Azerbaijan is at war with Armenia; 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory was being occupied by Armenia; and about one million Azerbaijani people turned into refugees and internally displaced persons. For this reason, there will be problems to provide security for Armenian Diana Markosian,” said Polukhov. “We asked the agency to send another photographer instead of Markosian.”
Photos taken by Markosian have been published in newspapers such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.
On April 18, Swedish journalists Charlie Laprevote, My Rohwedder Street, and Charlotta Wijkstrom were detained and deported from Baku, having come there to film a documentary about freedom of expression.