Chaos and tension broke out on Wednesday between journalists from the United States and Russia, who competed to enter the library of the Villa La Grange, in Geneva, to attend the start of the summit between their presidents, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.
Outside the mansion there were scenes of shouting and pushing and shoving shortly after the two leaders shook hands and entered the building, according to journalists from both countries.
Members of Biden’s “pool,” the group of reporters who follow the president, explained that the tension began at a side entrance when American and Russian reporters rushed to enter the mansion and were stopped by U.S. and Russian officials and security personnel.
American journalists were repeatedly asked to line up separately, but neither side heeded these instructions and began shouting and pushing to get in, while a Swiss official asked them to calm down.
The melee continued as White House officials tried to get American journalists inside, arguing that the US and Russia had agreed on the number of reporters allowed inside.
Meanwhile, Biden and Putin had begun talking in the mansion’s library, while many journalists remained outside.
In the end, only nine of the 13 reporters in President Biden’s “pool” were allowed inside.
According to CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, inside, some journalists stood in front of the cameras and others started talking, while the two leaders were trying to pronounce their first words of the summit, which further increased the tension among the reporters.
The Russian channel Russia-24 blamed the American journalists, “in search of the best positions”, for the chaos experienced, since they tried to enter the mansion despite the fact that the press was not allowed to do so.
This source assured that only photographers were allowed access to take the protocol snapshots for the initial statements of both leaders.
After this eventful start, the journalists were evacuated from the room for the start of the summit behind closed doors.