Russia expels POLITICO reporter

Eva Hartog, POLITICO Europe’s reporter in Moscow, has been expelled from Russia after 10 years reporting in the country.

Russia’s foreign ministry told Hartog last Monday that her visa would not be extended and gave her six days to leave the country. Hartog was told the decision had been made by the “relevant authorities,” but was given no additional information about how the ruling was made.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last year, foreign journalists have been required to reapply for their visa and media accreditation every three months, as opposed to once a year before the war started. Hartog’s expulsion is the first known time a foreign journalist based in Russia has been kicked out by Russia since the Kremlin escalated hostilities in Ukraine, though Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich was locked up on espionage charges in March.  

Since President Vladimir Putin launched all-out war against Ukraine in February 2022, the Russian authorities have progressively cleared the field of any remaining critics at home. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been imprisoned for decades in a maximum-security prison on extremism charges, while practically all independent Russian journalists have fled the country because of new censorship laws which criminalize critical coverage of the war.

In a statement, Jamil Anderlini, POLITICO Europe’s editor-in-chief, said: “Eva Hartog has safely departed Moscow after the renewal of her visa and transfer of her press accreditation to POLITICO were rejected by the Russian authorities. We are extremely disappointed by these actions, but they do not diminish POLITICO’s unwavering commitment to covering the Russian government and its war in Ukraine. We hope that Eva and POLITICO will return to Moscow in the near future to continue our factual and nonpartisan coverage of Russian politics.”

A Dutch citizen with Russian roots, Hartog, 35, moved to Moscow in 2013. She first worked as web editor at the Moscow Times, later taking on the role of editor-in-chief. Since 2019, she has been writing for the Dutch news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer and more recently as POLITICO Europe’s Russia correspondent. 

“Thankfully, Eva is safe and was able to leave Russia — however Evan Gershkovich of the Wall Street Journal remains unjustly imprisoned for committing fair and accurate journalism and should be released immediately,” Anderlini added.

The Kremlin has selectively targeted foreign journalists and international media in recent years. In 2021, the BBC’s Russia correspondent Sarah Rainsford was pushed out after she was declared a threat to national security. At the time, Russia said the move was in retaliation for the U.K.’s refusal to grant visas to Russian journalists.

Just months later, Russia then expelled Tom Vennink, Russia correspondent for Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, over “administrative violations.” Vennink was given three days to leave the country and was barred from entering Russia until January 2025.

Dozens of foreign journalists and organizations exited Russia in the days and weeks after Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but many of them eventually returned.

Then, in March this year, Russia arrested Gershkovich on espionage charges — denied by Gershkovich and his employer — making him the first foreign journalist to be arrested on allegations of spying since the Cold War. Gershkovich, who faces up to 20 years in jail, remains detained in Russia. His arrest sent shockwaves through the community of American and foreign journalists still in Russia, with many considering their future in the country. 

Until this week, it remained the only known example of Russia’s crackdown on foreign reporters since its assault on Kyiv began. 

In June Moscow indicated it would respond directly in kind to the latest round of EU sanctions, which targeted “individuals responsible for disinformation,” blacklisting several war bloggers and a war correspondent for the state-owned Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK).

During a press conference in February this year, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova announced the end of a “regime of maximum favorable treatment” toward foreign journalists.

“Everything is over now. Foreign correspondents will live and apply for their documents in a new way,” she added.

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