Last night BBG Watch reported that Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) chairman Jeff Shell, BBG CEO John Lansing, new Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) president Tom Kent, and BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) deputy director Jeff Trimble are to be in Moscow to mark the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Radio Liberty Moscow Bureau. There has been no official announcement of their visit to Moscow posted on the BBG or RFE/RL public relations websites. This morning we learned from the BBG and The New York Times article that BBG Chairman Jeff Shell was denied entry into Russia despite having a valid visa. He was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetevo Airport last night after arriving shortly before midnight on a flight from Prague. He was detained in a locked room for several hours, before being accompanied by Russian security officials to board a flight to Amsterdam. No explanation has yet been given to Shell, or the BBG, for his detention.
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), an independent NGO group, has expressed a strong condemnation of the Russian government’s decision to deny Mr. Shell entry into Russia.
BBG Chairman Jeff Shell is chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment. It is is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. He was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors on August 1, 2013.
BBG Watch pointed out that his presence is Moscow as BBG chairman on official U.S. government business might put him in a somewhat uncomfortable position if Universal Filmed Entertainment also has business interests in Russia.
SEE: BBG in Moscow: Russia needs a new and reformed Radio Liberty, a journalist says, BBG Watch, July 13, 2016
NBCUniversal Executive Is Denied Entry Into Russia, By RON NIXON and ANDREW E. KRAMER, NEW YORK TIMES, JULY 13, 2016
BBG PRESS RELEASE
July 13, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. — BBG Chairman Jeff Shell was denied entry into Russia and detained at Moscow’s Sheremetevo Airport last night after arriving shortly before midnight on a flight from Prague. Shell was denied entry into the country despite having a valid passport and Russian visa, and subsequently detained in a locked room for several hours, before being accompanied by Russian security officials to board a flight to Amsterdam. No explanation has yet been given to Shell, or the BBG, for his detention.
Shell told colleagues with whom he was traveling that airport security authorities told him the denial of entry into Russia has permanent status and is “a life-time ban.”
BBG officials met with U.S. Ambassador John Tefft in Moscow this morning to discuss the incident and to thank the Ambassador and the U.S. Department of State for their urgent attention to the matter.
Mr. Shell is a Presidential appointee who serves in a part-time capacity as Chairman of the Board that oversees all U.S. international media. He is also the chairman of NBCUniversal’s Filmed Entertainment Division.