On Saturday, 14 August, a BBC journalist said he had received an expulsion order from Russia with instructions that he would “never return” to the country. Sarah Rainsford said she was “devastated” by the treatment she received, saying the country she had been reporting on for several years was “isolated from the rest of the world”.
The announcement, while surprising, comes at a time of increasing fragility in bilateral relations between the UK and Russia. Moscow said Sarah Rainford, one of Britain’s broadcasters’ correspondents in the country, would be repatriated after London refused entry visas to Russian journalists.
In an interview with the BBC, Rainford said she was “shocked” by the decision, saying she felt part of a broader diplomatic game at a time when Russia’s relations with the West were deteriorating.
Rainford said the Russian government’s decision not to renew her visa until after the end of this month seemed technical, but it wasn’t: “I’m fired.”
They (Russian officials) told me I could never go back. It is personally devastating.”
Rainford, who is on a second visit to Moscow, said he has lived nearly a third of his life in Russia and has devoted years to studying the country. His departure before the end of this month comes after a period before parliamentary elections in September, when Russian authorities cracked down on Russian-speaking media, which they view as backed by “evil foreign interests designed to foment unrest”.
Rainford said Russia’s story was becoming increasingly difficult to tell in what she described as an “oppressive environment”.
This is a clear sign that things have changed. It’s another really bad sign about the situation in Russia. The BBC’s correspondent said it was another sign that Russia was closing its doors.
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