Russia announces expulsion of BBC journalist

MOSCOW – Russia expels Moscow-based BBC correspondent, Russian state television reported, the first time in years that a prominent Weste...


MOSCOW – Russia expels Moscow-based BBC correspondent, Russian state television reported, the first time in years that a prominent Western journalist has been publicly expelled from the country amid political conflict .

The BBC has condemned the decision to deport journalist Sarah Rainsford, while hoping the decision could still be overturned.

“Sarah Rainsford’s expulsion is a direct attack on media freedom which we wholeheartedly condemn,” BBC chief executive Tim Davie said in a statement on Friday. “We urge the Russian authorities to reconsider their decision. “

For now, even with Ms Rainsford’s expulsion, the BBC will continue to have a presence in Moscow, including an English correspondent and an operation in Russian.

“To be deported from Russia, a country in which I have lived for almost ⅓ of my life – and reported for years – is devastating,” said Ms Rainsford. wrote on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said the British broadcasting giant had ignored “repeated warnings” that it could face consequences in retaliation for pressure on Russian journalists in Britain, but she did not confirm the expulsion. The tone of state television report Thursday night, however, left no doubt that Russia was stepping up its confrontation with Western media.

“Sarah Rainsford is going home,” chanted a reporter for the Rossiya-24 public news channel. “This correspondent from the BBC Moscow office will not have her visa renewed, according to our experts, because Britain has crossed all the red lines in terms of media.”

Mrs. Rainsford, a seasoned correspondent first assigned to Moscow in 2000, will have to leave Russia by the end of the month, according to the report. He described the move as “our symmetrical response” to what he called “discrimination” by Britain against Russian journalists for public media. like RT and Sputnik.

“London is not extending or granting new visas to Russian journalists,” the report said. “RT and Sputnik are not accredited for international events.”

A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office urged Russia to “reconsider this retrograde measure against an award-winning BBC reporter” and dismissed the claim that Russian journalists were discriminated against in the UK.

“Russian journalists continue to work freely in the UK, provided they act within the law and the regulatory framework,” the spokesperson said.

An anonymous account on social network Telegram, quoted by Russian state television, cited a “diplomatic source” as saying that the deportation was also precipitated by British sanctions against Russian individuals. Britain has issued travel bans and asset freezes against more than a dozen Russians last april and December on corruption and human rights violations.

Russian state media have long chosen major Western news outlets as part of a Washington-led campaign to discredit and weaken the country. At the same time, Moscow-based journalists for major European and American newspapers and broadcasters accredited to work in Russia can usually operate freely.

Ms Rainsford’s expulsion would be a signal that times are changing – as they did in China last year with the expulsion of American reporters. Independent news media in Russia have already come under extraordinary pressure in recent months amid the Kremlin crisis intensification of the crackdown on dissent ahead of the national legislative elections next month. Several Russian media have been declared “foreign agents”, limiting their ability to function, while the important investigative media Proekt was banned last month as an “undesirable organization”.

Maria V. Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on Friday that all retaliation against the BBC was in response to pressure on a Russian journalist in Britain whom she did not name.

“The Anglo-Saxon media group has ignored repeated warnings from the Foreign Office that appropriate action will be taken in response to the London visa games with a Russian correspondent in Britain,” Zakharova said in a statement. . “BBC officials who have visited the Foreign Office in recent days have been briefed on everything in detail.”

Ms Rainsford reported from Russia for five years starting in 2000, and has been in Moscow in her current post since 2014. Earlier this week, she was in Belarus, reporting on the crackdown on the opposition there by President Aleksandr G Lukashenko, a close ally of the Kremlin.

At a press conference Monday in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, Ms Rainsford questioned Mr Lukashenko about the numerous reports of abuse of protesters detained in Belarus last year.

“It is wrong, dear girl, it is wrong,” Mr Lukashenko told her.

But Ms Rainsford’s report showed images of abuse and bruising of inmates, as well as a hidden memorial in honor of a slain protester.

“Mass protests reduced to hidden shrines,” Ms Rainsford said as she signed. “But a year later, the emotions, the anger have gone nowhere here.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: Russia announces expulsion of BBC journalist
Russia announces expulsion of BBC journalist
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