Key speaker deported on way to Derry

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One controversy over the weekend was the shock deportation of one of the conference’s key speakers, Oksana Chelysheva, before even reaching Derry.

The Russian journalist - an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s record in Chechnya - was detained for six hours in Stansted Airport before being deported back home. She had been scheduled to address the Derry conference on Friday afternoon. The move prompted speculation locally that her deportation coincided with the imminent arrival of President Putin to Northern Ireland for the G8 Summit in Fermanagh.

“We obviously didn’t have a chance to learn more about Chechnya and the whole situation there,” organiser Paul O’Connor said. “So we do need to find out more about what happened with Oksana - that’s a very important issue.”

Ms Chelysheva was awarded Amnesty’s ‘Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat’ back in 2006.