Press freedom and free speech in Russia are dwindling, says BBC’s Moscow correspondent

Press freedom: Expert discusses importance in 2013

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After two decades of reporting from Moscow, Sarah Rainsford was last month told that Russia’s FSB security service was expelling her for life. This year she angered supporters of Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s president and an ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, by asking him about the repression of peaceful protesters.

In her final dispatch, she interviewed Russian journalists – and a worker at Dozhd TV said they must declare their “hostile” status when they publish any news.

She concluded: “I am leaving a country I first came to as the Soviet Union fell apart, when freedoms were new and precious…today’s Russia is moving in reverse.”

A Russian foreign ministry spokesman said the ban was in retaliation to British authorities denying a visa extension to a Russian journalist.

But the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “Russian journalists continue to work freely in the UK, provided they act within the law.”

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