The BBC condemned Russia’s decision not to renew the visa of one of its journalists, describing it as a “direct violation of media freedom.”
The company has urged Russian authorities to reconsider its decision to “expel” Sarah Rainsford, who currently lives in Moscow.
Russian media reported that Rainsford had to leave the country at the end of the month of his residency.
The report said the move was in response to Britain’s refusal to issue visas to Russian journalists.
In a post on the Telegram app, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the government had repeatedly warned her to respond to what she described as harassment of Russian journalists in the UK over visas.
“The expulsion of Sarah Rainesford is a direct attack on media freedom, which we condemn without reservation,” the commission’s director general, Tim Davy, said in a statement.
“Sarah is an exceptional journalist, she is fearless, speaks Russian fluently and gives an independent, in-depth report on Russia and the former Soviet Union. Her work informs millions of BBC viewers around the world.”
“We urge the Russian authorities to reconsider their decision.
The UK Foreign and International Development Agency called the decision “another unjustified move by Russian authorities.”
A senior foreign affairs correspondent, Rainesford has previously worked in Havana, Istanbul and Madrid.
His work was recently recognized for the events in Belarus, when he initially questioned the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko about human rights violations.
It was the first decision in a decade to expel a British journalist from Russia in retaliation for deteriorating relations between the two countries.
In 2019, Ofcom, the UK’s media regulator, fined Russia Today, a Russian government – backed channel, for violating its impartial rules in poisoning former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skribal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK.
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