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17 June 2022

Journalists Pledge Russia Ban Will Not Discourage Reporting

Media organisations have pledged to continue their free and fearless reporting of the war in Ukraine after Russia banned 29 UK journalists from a wide range of British newspapers and broadcasters from visiting the country.

The barred 29 journalists included those working for The Times and The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent, Financial Times, and the BBC, amongst others.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the journalists’ reporting as “anti-Russian” and that they were “inciting Russophobia in British society with their biased assessments” and deliberately spread “disseminating false and one-sided information about Russia and the events in Ukraine and the Donbas.”

News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith said: “The banning of UK journalists from Russia is a clear assault on a free press. This move illustrates the vital role of journalism and UK news media continues to play in holding power to account by shining a light on the awful events happening in Ukraine and bringing them to the attention of the world.

“Journalism matters now more than ever and it continues to play an essential role in our democracy. Regardless of Russia’s ban, UK journalists will not be deterred from holding those in power to account and bringing accurate, trusted news and information to our society.”

Russia currently ranks 155th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index and has introduced legislation this year to criminalise media organisations that report misinformation. Those punished could receive a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Writing in the Independent, managing director of the title Christian Broughton, another amongst the journalists sanctioned, said: “I have never travelled to Moscow, and now it seems I never will.

“I am relieved that, fortunately, for now at least, our reporters do not feature on the list of 29 British journalists the Kremlin has decided to ban from travelling to Russia, so you can rest assured that there will be no impact on The Independent’s fearless, free and (of course) truly independent reporting.

“These travel bans, sadly, will have considerable and very real consequences for some of the reporters on the list.

“But the travel bans will not silence our industry. The determination of reporters is not to be underestimated. They will continue to hold truth to power. And there is one particular truth we all know: any government that attempts to crack down on journalism clearly has something to hide.”

A Guardian spokesperson said: “This is a disappointing move by the Russian government and a bad day for press freedom. Trusted, accurate journalism is more important now than ever, and despite this decision we will continue to report robustly on Russia and on its invasion of Ukraine.”

A Telegraph spokesman said: "The Telegraph is proud of its reporting of the invasion of Ukraine and regrets attempts by Russia to restrict press freedom."