Wednesday, December 8

BBC journalist speaks of “increasingly repressive” Russia before expulsion | BBC

A senior BBC journalist who will be expelled from Russia has condemned “an increasingly repressive environment” for critical journalists in the country.

Sarah Rainsford, whose visa expires at the end of the month and will not be renewed, said her imminent departure came in the context of “a massive deterioration in relations between Russia and the United Kingdom” and attacks on press freedom.

“I did not expect this to happen,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. of all that. This is a clear sign that things have changed.

“It is another really bad sign of the state of affairs in Russia and another recession in the relationship between Russia and the world, and a sign that Russia is closing in on itself more and more.”

State broadcaster Rossiya-24 first reported on the decision late Thursday, calling it a response to alleged denials or delays by the UK in issuing visas to Russian journalists and past threats that Ofcom could strip the company. Russian broadcaster RT of its license.

The report also claimed that correspondents for RT and state-owned Sputnik were not accredited for the events. But the British embassy in Moscow has denied that any Russian journalist has been discriminated against in the UK and lamented the effective expulsion of Rainsford as “retrograde” and “unjustified”.

Rainsford agreed that she was caught in a larger diplomatic and political game. “We were officially informed about a case that is two years old, a specific person who did not extend to stay in the UK as a journalist,” he said.

“They have also given me different reasons, including the British government sanctions against Russian citizens for human rights violations in Chechnya and for corruption.”

When told that her visa would not be renewed, she told the envoys to break the news: “’I am not your enemy. I have done my best to understand this country and tell its story and that of the people here. It is something that is very close to my heart and you are eliminating someone who understands Russia, who speaks directly to the people and tries to explain Russia to the world. ‘

However, he said that the Russian state does not want such people in the country. “It is much easier to have fewer people here who understand and can speak directly to people and listen to their stories and tell them,” he told Today. “It is indicative of an increasingly difficult and repressive environment.”

Following continued attacks on press freedom in the country, he said there were “few” Russian journalists left trying to report independently and freely in extremely difficult circumstances.

“They come for the press,” he said. “Now we wake up every day and hear news about another person who has had a police search in his apartment, another person who is in court or who has left the country. The number of people leaving the country now is extraordinary, I have never seen anything like it ”.

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