Russia has called the BBC’s Sarah Rainford persona non grata, refused to extend her visa and ordered her to leave at the end of this month. This was reported by Reuters news agency on Friday, based on reports from Russian state television. It would be in retaliation for what Russia sees as discrimination against Russian journalists, who previously did not obtain a visa from Britons or whose visas have not been extended.
Russia’s state television station Rossiya-24 called it a “symbolic expulsion” and a “symmetric response” to Britain’s decision to reject Russian journalists. It will be reporters from RT and online news outlet Sputnik, both backed by the Russian state, who wanted to report on undisclosed international events in the UK. Diplomatic tensions between Russia and the United Kingdom have been rising for some time, due in part to the Russian attack in 2018 on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the British city of Salisbury.
Rainford is an experienced reporter who has previously worked from Turkey, Spain and Cuba, among others. The last British journalist to expel the Russians was Luke Harding Watchman In 2011. For now, another BBC reporter who is currently based in Moscow may remain. The BBC and the British and Russian foreign ministries did not respond to questions from Reuters about Rainford’s expulsion.