Russia asks BBC journalist to leave in diplomatic row with Britain

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference, held online in a video conference mode, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia

Russia has asked a BBC journalist working in Moscow to leave the country by the end of the month when their visa expires in retaliation for what it views as British discrimination against Russian journalists, state TV reported late on Thursday.

The Rossiya-24 TV channel said that Sarah Rainsford, one of the British broadcaster’s Moscow correspondents, had been declared persona non grata and would be going home in what it called “a symbolic deportation.”

It said the Russian authorities had decided against renewing Rainsford’s accreditation to work as a foreign journalist in Moscow in retaliation for Britain not renewing or issuing visas to Russian journalists.

The BBC and Rainsford did not immediately reply to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry said she would comment on the matter once Rainsford had done so.

The British embassy in Moscow declined immediate comment.

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