French airport police detained two Ukrainian journalists early Thursday morning because of impolite posters the reporters had pinned onto their backpacks, according to Earth Times. News reader Egor Sobolev and editor Vladislav Siniagovsky, both employees of the popular Kiev-headquartered Channel 5 television channel, had written "Protect the rights of transit passengers!" on sheets of notebook paper.
The pair had been stranded nearly 24 hours at Paris` Charles de Gaulle airport due to a flight delay, while returning home from Cuba via the French capital.
The "humourously-meant" complaint was aimed at a Schengen treaty rule forbidding the exit of stranded air travellers into EU territory without a proper visa, Sobolev said.
The law, aimed at hindering illegal migration, prevented the pair from going to a hotel "like any civilized tourist," Sobolev reported to Channel 5 television by telephone.
According to Sobolev`s account, airport police instructed the pair to throw away the critical sheets of paper. When the journalists refused, asking law enforcers on what grounds they should do so, they were taken into custody.
"The cop said `I`ll show you legal grounds!` and then they grabbed us," Sobolev said. "I don`t call that reasonable treatment of tourists paying full fare."
Though practically unknown outside of Ukraine, Channel 5 television inside the country is widely recognized as Ukraine`s best single news source, with a long history of independent reporting and standing up to authority.
Ukrainian diplomats contacted by Siniagovsky travelled to the scene and, after discussion with airport authorities in the early hours of the morning, secured Sobelov`s and Siniagovsky`s release.
No charges were filed against the pair, and by midday Thursday the reporters were waiting to depart Charles de Gaulle for Kiev.
The Franco-Ukrainian airport incident came in the wake of a more violent December 7 fracas, pitting members of a Ukrainian church choir against police in the provincial French town Clermont-Ferrand.
The scuffle developed in a supermarket after plain-clothes police attempted to confiscate 500-euro (717 dollars) notes used by members of the Dumka National Choir, in an effort to purchase food.
Supermarket vendors had reported the Ukrainians as suspicious foreigners possibly attempting to cash counterfeit money. The bills however later proved to be legitimate.
Choir singers refused to hand over the money to the cops, and resisted arrest. Police ultimately used clubs to subdue some of the musicians, for whom 500 euros represented approximately three months` salary.
No charges were filed, and the choir members and their money eventually were released. The inability of the singers to speak French, or the police English, contributed to the conflict, Korrespondent magazine reported.