Visas must not be used as a weapon against journalists

  • 18 Aug 2021

Following the refusal by the Russian government to renew BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford’s visa, the NUJ and Russian Union of Journalists have published a joint statement.

The Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) and the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland have joined forces in calling on the authorities of their respective countries to stop using renewal of visas as political pressure on journalists, which deprives them of their right to do their jobs as journalists. 

The RUJ deplores that the Russian Foreign Ministry on August 18, 2021, refused to extend the working visa for the BBC correspondent, Sarah Rainsford, who spent a third of her life, on and off, working in Russia. In response, Sarah said, “I’m not your enemy” insisting that she tried her hardest to understand and to tell the story of Russia and it is something that's very close to her heart. 

The RUJ is making representation to the authorities to reconsider their decision and reintegrate Sarah’s accreditation. The NUJ equally reminds the UK government that journalists’ rights to do their job must remain fundamental to the mission of professional journalists and key to press freedom.

The inappropriate use of accreditation and pressure on the ability of Russian media to operate in the UK can only lead to escalation and mistrust between journalists. Both unions insist that the work of professional journalists in Russia and the UK are essential to dialogue and mutual understanding between countries and peoples and will continue to work together to help their journalists resist becoming hostage to political crisis. 

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: 

“It is vital that journalists are allowed to operate in the public interest, without undue interference or bureaucratic impediments designed to stop them doing their job. Journalists should not be used as pawns in power struggles and our unions will continue to defend the common professional interests of our members.”

Vladimir Solovyov, RUJ president, said: 

“Journalists are the key element of civil diplomacy and one of the main goals of professional international journalism is to build trust between peoples and countries. Our mutual task is to help our colleagues, to defend them in case of violations of their rights, and to protect their important mission. "

Return to listing