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Russia to expel UK journalist unless country renews visa for a journalist of its own

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Russia said on Saturday it will renew the visa of a BBC journalist who was recently kicked out of the country if the United Kingdom renews a visa for a Russian journalist after the U.K. allegedly kicked him out in 2019.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated expelled BBC journalist Sarah Rainsford will be allowed to go back to Russia provided the U.K. gives a visa to a Russian journalist, The Associated Press reported.

“That’s exactly what we offered when we called on London to resolve that journalist visa deadlock,” Zakharova said.

Russia claims a journalist and his family were expelled from the U.K. in 2019 when the British government didn’t renew his visa. They further say the U.K. would not give a visa to another journalist to replace the one the British government expelled.

The U.K. disputes Russia’s claim, saying they are not discriminating against Russian reporters, according to the AP.

“Russian journalists continue to work freely in the U.K., provided they act within the law and the regulatory framework,” the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

The move to permit Rainsford to come back if the U.K. provides a visa to a Russian journalist comes after Rainsford said she was told she would never be allowed back in Russia.

“I am being expelled,” Rainsford said in a BBC interview. “I have been told [by Russian officials] that I cannot come back ever. It’s devastating personally.”

BBC Director-General Tim Davie condemned Russia’s move to kick Rainsford out of the country, saying it was an attack on the freedom of the media.

“The expulsion of Sarah Rainsford is a direct assault on media freedom which we condemn unreservedly,” Davie said.

Tags BBC Russia

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