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Russia set to expel BBC journalist in row with Britain

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sarah Rainsford, BBC foreign correspondent in Moscow

The Russian government has told a BBC journalist working in Moscow to leave the country by the end of this month in retaliation for London's “discrimination” against Russian media in Britain, state TV reported.

Rossiya-24 TV channel announced on late Thursday that Sarah Rainsford, a BBC correspondent, would be going home in what it called “a symbolic deportation.” Rainsford’s visa expires on Aug. 31 and will not be renewed, according to the authorities.

The measure signals a further deterioration in already poor ties between London and Moscow.

The development comes on the heels of an attack on the country’s Russian-speaking media before the parliamentary elections in September, which the authorities believed were supported by malicious foreign interests trying to incite unrest.

The move was in retaliation for London’s rejection to renew or issue visas for Russian journalists working in the UK, the state-owned media reported, citing Britain's treatment of state broadcaster RT and of online state news agency Sputnik, saying neither were allowed to cover international events in the UK.

“Sarah Rainsford is going home. According to our experts, this correspondent of the Moscow's BBC bureau will not have her visa extended because Britain, in the media sphere, has crossed all our red lines,” Rossiya-24 said, adding that “the expulsion of Sarah Rainsford is our symmetrical response.”

Earlier this week a British man was arrested in Berlin on suspicion of spying for Russia as a British embassy employee “for a number of months.”

Without commenting on the expulsion, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel on Thursday that the BBC didn't heed the ministry's “repeated warnings” over London's “real visa mockery” of an unnamed Russian correspondent in Britain.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced this week that it barred entry to unidentified British officials in retaliation to London’s human sanctions.

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