Moscow, Aug 14 (AP) Russia could renew a visa for a BBC journalist to let her resume work in Moscow if British authorities give a visa to a Russian journalist, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
Russia has refused to renew a visa for BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford in an effective expulsion amid simmering tensions with Britain — a move that the British government and the BBC condemned Friday as an assault on media freedom.
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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova rejected what she described as British “unfounded accusations and Russophobic cliches” and insisted that the Russian action was a retaliation to U.K.’s refusal to extend a visa to a Russian news agency correspondent or anyone who could replace him.
Zakharova said the journalist, whom she didn’t name, had to leave Britain along with his family in the summer of 2019 after British authorities failed to renew his visa even though he strictly abided by official rules. She charged that British authorities also refused to issue visas to any other journalist to replace him.
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“We have repeatedly warned on different levels that such approach is inadmissible and we wouldn’t reconcile with it,” Zakharova in a post on a messaging app. “We have urged them to review the discriminatory approach … and pointed out that otherwise we would respond accordingly.”
The BBC called on Moscow to revise its move. BBC Director-General Tim Davie said that “the expulsion of Sarah Rainsford is a direct assault on media freedom which we condemn unreservedly.”
The U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office condemned the move as “another unjustified step by the Russian authorities” and rejected Moscow’s claim of discriminatory action against Russian journalists based in the U.K.
“Russian journalists continue to work freely in the U.K., provided they act within the law and the regulatory framework,” it said.
But Zakharova insisted that Russia’s refusal to renew Rainsford’s visa was “analogous to London’s action in respect to her Russian colleagues.” She added that if British authorities give a visa to a Russian journalist, Russia will renew Rainsford’s visa.
“That’s exactly what we offered when we called on London to resolve that journalist visa deadlock,” Zakharova said. (AP)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)