MOSCOW – Russia has expelled a BBC correspondent in Moscow, Russian state television reported, the first time in years that a prominent Western journalist has been publicly forced to leave the country in the context of a political dispute.
The BBC condemned the move to expel the journalist, Sarah Rainford, while she hoped the decision could be reversed.
“The expulsion of Sarah Rainford is a direct assault on media freedom that we unreservedly condemn,” BBC Director-General Tim Davey said in a statement on Friday. We urge the Russian authorities to reconsider their decision.
A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said the British broadcasting giant had ignored “repeated warnings” that it could face retaliatory consequences for pressuring Russian journalists in Britain, but did not confirm the expulsion. State TV tone Transfer But Thursday evening, he left no doubt that Russia was escalating its confrontation with the Western media.
“Sarah Rainford is going home,” a reporter for the state-run Rossiya-24 news channel echoed. “Her visa will not be renewed BBC Moscow correspondent, according to our experts, because Great Britain has crossed all red lines from a media point of view.”
Mrs. RainfordVeteran reporter It was first published in Moscow in 2000Russia will be asked to leave Russia by the end of the month, the report said. She described the move as our “symmetric response” to what she said was “discrimination” by Britain against Russian correspondents for state-run outlets. Like RT and Sputnik.
“London is neither extending nor granting new visas to Russian journalists,” the report said. RT and Sputnik are not accredited for international events.
A British Foreign Office spokesperson has urged Russia to “reconsider this step back against award-winning BBC journalist” and reject the claim that Russian journalists face discrimination in the UK
“Russian journalists continue to operate freely in the UK, provided they act within the law and regulatory framework,” the spokesman said.
An anonymous account on the social network Telegram, reported by Russian state television, quoted a “diplomatic source” as saying that the expulsion came as a result of British sanctions against Russian personnel. Britain has issued a travel ban and asset freeze for more than a dozen Russians last April And Dec On corruption and human rights violations.
Russian state media have long viewed major Western news outlets as part of a Washington-led campaign to discredit and weaken the country. At the same time, journalists in Moscow working for European and American newspapers and broadcasters accredited to work in Russia are generally able to work freely.
Mrs. Rainford’s dismissal would be a sign that times are changing. As they did in China last year by expelling American correspondents. Russia’s independent news media has already come under extraordinary pressure in recent months amid the Kremlin Intense suppression of the opposition ahead of nationwide parliamentary elections next month. Several Russian news media have been declared “foreign agents”, limiting their ability to operate, while prominent investigative outlet Proekt was banned last month as a “undesirable organization”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria F.
“The Anglo-Saxon media group has ignored repeated warnings from the Foreign Office about taking appropriate action in response to London’s visa-related matches with a Russian correspondent in Britain,” Ms Zakharova said in a statement. “The BBC representatives who visited the State Department in recent days were told everything in detail.”
Ms. Rainford worked from Russia for five years starting in 2000, and has been in Moscow in her current position since 2014. She did not comment publicly on her dismissal on Friday. Earlier this week, she was in Belarus, where she reported on a crackdown on dissent there by President Alexander G. Lukashenko, a close ally of the Kremlin.
At a press conference on Monday in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, Ms. Rainford asked Mr. Lukashenko about widespread reports about the abuse of detained protesters in Belarus last year.
“She’s a fake girl, she’s a fake,” Mr. Lukashenko told her.
But Ms Rainford’s report showed footage of the abuse and bruising of detainees, as well as a hidden memorial to one of the dead protesters.
“The mass protests have turned into hidden shrines,” Ms Rainford said, anticipating that “mass protests have turned into hidden shrines”. “But a year later, the feelings and anger haven’t gone anywhere here.”