State Department accuses Russia of ‘full assault’ on media freedom

Sergei Guneyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the State Council in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on May 25, 2022.

The Biden administration said on Monday that Moscow is “engaged in a full assault on media freedom” amid reporting that the Kremlin may bar American journalists from working in Russia over the treatment of Russian reporters in the U.S.

Representatives from a handful of U.S. news outlets met with Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Monday, a journalist with knowledge of the meeting told Voice of America (VOA), and said that they were told officials would make it harder for them to work in Russia if the treatment of Russian reporters in the U.S. did not change.

“During the meeting, Zakharova [said that] accreditation and, by extension, visas would be extended for only three months, and if the U.S. doesn’t improve its current treatment of Russian journalists, they would ban us from working in Russia,” the journalist, who was not identified for security reasons, told the news outlet.

During a press briefing later on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that qualified Russian journalists are still being issued visas and those working in the U.S. are not having their Foreign Press Center credentials taken away.

“Let’s be clear: The Kremlin is engaged in a full assault on media freedom, access to information, and the truth,” Price told reporters.

“The Russian Government fundamentally and willfully disregards what it means to have a free press, as evidenced by them blocking or banning nearly every independent Russian outlet seeking to report inside their country,” he added. “Threatening professional journalists for simply trying to do their jobs and seeking to seal off Russia’s population from any foreign information illustrates the flimsiness and the fragility of the Russian Government’s narrative.”

Price also noted that Russian media outlets NTV, Channel One and Russia-1 had been designated by the Treasury Department last month as “being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly,” the Russian government.  

The remarks come as London-based Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov said on Monday he had been added to “Russia’s wanted list.”

“My Monday: my accounts in Russian banks are under arrest, plus I’m placed on Russia’s wanted list,” he tweeted. 

Tags Joe Biden Maria Zakharova Ned Price

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