Latest news from Ukraine and Russia

June 6, 2022, 11:05 p.m. ET

Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

The State Department on Monday accused Russia of threatening American journalists in Moscow and dismissed Kremlin accusations that the Biden administration censored Russian journalists in the United States.

Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department, condemned reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry had summoned American journalists to a meeting on Monday and warned that their visas and credentials could be threatened in retaliation. to what he called the US government’s hostility to Russian journalists in America. .

“Threatening professional journalists for simply trying to do their job and seeking to insulate the Russian population from any foreign information illustrates the weakness and fragility of the Russian government’s narrative,” Mr. Price said.

Reuters first reported on Monday that a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova – who was sanctioned by the Biden administration last week – told US reporters at the meeting that Russian journalists in the United States had encountered problems with visa renewals, harassment by American intelligence agencies and blocked bank accounts. Ms Zakharova reportedly warned that American journalists in Russia could face similar problems with visas, credentials and banking.

Mr Price said the Biden administration continues to issue visas to “qualified” Russian journalists in the United States, and has not revoked their credentials.

The Treasury Department last month sanctioned three news outlets it said were directly or indirectly owned by the Russian state: Russia-1, Channel One and NTV. Mr Price said their income ‘supports President Putin’s war’. “Many other independent and state-linked entities remained unlicensed,” he added.

Major US private media platforms like YouTube and Google have blocked other Kremlin-funded Russian media, including RT and Sputnik, but not at the request of the US government.

Mr Price said Moscow was making a “false equivalence” by suggesting the US was censoring reports of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He noted that Russia has criminalized the use of the word “war” to describe its military campaign, which the Kremlin has called a “special operation”. A new law signed by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in March also provides for prison sentences of up to 15 years for people who spread “false” information about the conflict.

“The Russian government fundamentally and deliberately ignores what it means to have a free press, as evidenced by the blocking or banning of almost all independent Russian media seeking to report inside their country,” Mr. Price.

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