Russia has expelled an American journalist known for his critical views of President Vladimir Putin, in a move that threatens to further damage relations with the United States.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry, which handles media accreditation for foreign journalists, said on Tuesday that David Satter had been prevented from returning to Russia last month after grossly violating visa regulations. Such expulsions have been rare since the end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Satter, a former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times, had been living and working in the Russian capital since last year as an advisor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a broadcaster funded by the US government. The Foreign Ministry said that Satter had failed to report to the federal migration service as required after his last entry into the country on Nov. 21.
"In fact, from Nov. 22 to Nov. 26 this US citizen stayed on Russian territory illegally," the ministry said. A Moscow court later ruled on Nov. 29 that he should be expelled. A court spokeswoman confirmed the ruling.
When Satter left Russia for a short period on Dec. 4, he was later refused a visa to return, the ministry said. Under the terms of his expulsion, Satter cannot apply for a new visa to live in Russia for another five years.
“I have been expelled from Russia and declared persona non grata,” he wrote on his personal website.
He went on to dismiss the Foreign Ministry’s version of events, writing, “This is the first explanation for my expulsion which anyone has received in nearly three weeks. It is also false.”
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said the US embassy in Moscow had sought an explanation from the Russian authorities, but without success. It quoted Satter as saying he had been told by a Russian embassy official in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev that his presence was considered "undesirable".
Satter is the author of three books on Russia and the Soviet Union, one of which, "Darkness at Dawn", accuses the Federal Security Service (FSB), a successor of the Soviet-era KGB, of being responsible for bombings of Russian apartment buildings in 1999 which killed more than 300 people.
The FSB, which was headed by Putin before he became prime minister and then president, has denied the charge. Russian authorities blamed the attacks on separatists from Chechnya in the volatile North Caucasus. The crimes were never solved.
Satter’s expulsion could further fray ties between the US and Russia, which have deteriorated in recent years following disputes over Iran, Syria, human rights and Moscow’s decision to give temporary asylum to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Last year, Russia also expelled a US diplomat in Moscow, accusing him of working as a spy and trying to recruit a Russian agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-01-14