One of the key speakers scheduled to address a major conference in Derry today has been deported before she even reached the city, prompting organisers to ask whether her deportation is connected to the forthcoming G8 visit of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Russian journalist Oksana Chelysheva – an outspoken critic of President Putin’s record in Chechnya – was scheduled to address the Poisonous Legacies conference in the Guildhall this afternoon.
Conference organiser, Paul O’Connor, says Ms Chelysheva was detained for six hours at Stansted Airport yesterday, on her way to Derry, before being deported from Britain.
Ms Chelysheva, who won Amnesty’s ‘Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat’ in 2006, has been campaigning for a war crimes tribunal to deal with the human rights abuses of the Chechen conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of a number of world leaders travelling to Ireland for the controversial G8 Summit in Enniskillen next week.
The international Poisonous Legacies conference, which has been organised jointly by the Bloody Sunday Trust and the Pat Finucane Centre, will examine the impact of conflict and colonialism in various parts of the world, including the Middle East, Colombia, Argentina, Chechnya, Spain, Italy and Ireland.
It coincides with the third anniversary of the publication of the Saville Report, and is part of the City of Culture 2013 programme.