Critical Journalist Stopped at Airport

Natalya Morar, an investigative journalist who reported that the Kremlin maintained secret funds to finance political parties, was refused entry to Russia at Domodedovo Airport on Wednesday after border guards said she was a threat to national security.

As of late Wednesday, Morar remained in an airport transit zone along with Ilya Barabanov, a colleague at The New Times magazine whom she married with the aim of simplifying her entry to Russia, she said by telephone.

"There are guards with us who tell us that they have orders from above," Morar said. "We have demanded explanations, but there have been none."

It is the second time Morar, 23, a Moldovan national and reporter with the New Times, has been denied entry to the country.

Federal border guards told the pair, who were detained at 9 a.m. along with a group of journalists accompanying them to cover the story, that they would be held overnight and deported on the first flight to Moldova, Morar said.

She said that she had been denied access to a lawyer.

An unidentified law enforcement official said she had been added to a government blacklist, RIA-Novosti reported.

Morar said her imminent deportation was "without doubt" linked to an article she wrote in the magazine claiming the Kremlin secretly financed friendly parties during the fall State Duma election campaign.

The article named Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Sobyanin and Vladislav Surkov, his deputy, as the controllers of the funds.

Morar and Barabanov landed with a team of journalists, including Vladimir Varfolomeyev, a first deputy editor at Ekho Moskvy.

"We were taken away at passport control for taking too long to get to the counter," Varfolomeyev said Wednesday. "As far as I know, I am perfectly within my rights even to sit in the toilet all day."

After a female border guard identified her, a team of border guards took Morar and the four others to an office where, Varfomoleyev said, their documents were confiscated and he was told he might be charged.

After two hours, Morar and Barabanov were escorted to the transit zone on the second floor, and an hour later the other journalists were released, Varfomoleyev said.

In the transit zone, Vladimir Tol, the airport's chief border guard, told Morar that she would be deported according to Article 27 of the Constitution, which states that individuals declared unwelcome may not enter Russia, Morar said.

A man who answered the phone at Domodedovo's border guard post Wednesday said he was not authorized to comment.

Morar first heard about the decision to blacklist her on Dec. 16, after returning from a vacation in Israel. Federal Security Service officials informed her of the "undesirability of her presence in Russia" and ordered her out of the country, she said.