Russia has told a BBC journalist working in Moscow to leave the country by the end of this month in retaliation for what it called London’s discrimination against Russian journalists working in Britain, state television reported late Thursday.
In an unusual move that points to a further deterioration of already bad ties between London and Moscow, the TV channel Rossiya-24 said Sarah Rainsford, one of the British broadcaster’s two Anglophone Moscow correspondents, would be going home. in what it called “a symbolic deportation.”
The move, which amounts to a de facto expulsion, follows a crackdown ahead of September’s parliamentary elections against Russian-language media at home, which authorities say are backed by malicious foreign interests seeking to fuel unrest.
Rossiya-24 said Russian authorities had decided not to renew Rainsford’s recognition to work as a foreign journalist in Moscow after the end of this month, when her existing visa expires.
The move was in retaliation for London not extending or issuing visas to Russian journalists working in Britain, it said.
The station cited Britain’s treatment of state-backed Russian broadcaster RT and state-owned online news channel Sputnik, saying neither could be accredited in Britain to cover international events.
“Sarah Rainsford is going home. According to our experts, her visa for this correspondent from the BBC’s Moscow bureau will not be extended because Britain has crossed all our red lines in the media field,” said Rossiya-24.
“Sarah Rainsford’s eviction is our symmetrical response,” the statement said.
The BBC has said it will not comment on the story. Rainsford did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said she would respond to the matter once Rainsford did.
The British embassy in Moscow immediately declined comment.
Rainsford, a Russian-speaking, is an accomplished BBC foreign correspondent who has also worked in Havana, Istanbul and Madrid.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)