Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zagarova said the “saga goes back” to the summer of 2019, when a Russian reporter had to leave the UK for visa reasons “without explanation”.
In a Facebook note, the spokeswoman accused the British government of “turning the issue around” and the BBC with propaganda.
Russian TV station 24 reported on Thursday that Rainford’s visa expired on August 31 and will not be renewed, in response to alleged British pressure on Russian media operating on the island.
The BBC accused Moscow of an “attack on press freedom” after the expulsion. On Saturday, Rainford said she was told by Russian authorities that she would “never” be able to return to the country.
Zakharova denied this account and said that Rainford could obtain a visa as soon as the Russian reporter was allowed to return to the UK.
Zagarova insisted: “I will say again: Russian action is revenge, and it has nothing to do with freedom of speech.”
Rainford, a veteran BBC Moscow correspondent, has been told she will have to leave the country once her visa expires in August.
The decision was made against the background of tensions between Russia and Western countries.
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