Russia denies US consular visit to jailed journalist

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Moscow said Thursday it had denied an upcoming consular visit to detained US reporter Evan Gershkovich in retaliation for Washington not issuing visas to several Russian journalists.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complained last weekend that the United States had denied visas to Russian journalists due to travel with him to the UN headquarters.

“The US embassy was informed that its request for a consular visit on May 11… to US citizen (Evan) Gershkovich, who was detained on charges of espionage, has been rejected,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

The decision followed what the ministry called a “provocative” US decision to bar Russian journalists from flying to the United States.

It warned that “other potential retaliatory measures are being worked out”.

Gershkovich was arrested in Russia last month and charged with espionage.

His employer, The Wall Street Journal, and US officials denied the allegations.

Gershkovich, who previously worked for AFP, is the first foreign journalist arrested in Russia on spying charges since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In a statement distributed by the Journal via his Russian lawyers, Gershkovich thanked the people who have offered him support during his detention.

“I am humbled and deeply touched by all the letters I received,” the statement read. “I’ve read each one carefully, with gratitude.”

After its journalists were denied visas on Sunday, Russia vowed to respond.

“We will find formats to respond to this so that the Americans remember for a long time that such things must not be done,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was cited as saying by state-run news agencies.

Since the beginning of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine last year, Moscow has tightened conditions to obtain the accreditations needed to work as a journalist in the country.

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