UK officials have refused to issue a visa to a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry accredited to participate in the Global Conference on Media Freedom, the Russian Embassy in the UK said in a statement published on Wednesday, adding that London’s decision "looks really weird" in the context of UK's invitation to Russia to participate in the event.
"It is well-known that visas for official travel have become one of the problems in the current Russia-UK relations. But even in these conditions, not issuing a visa to a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry traveling to participate in the conference looks really weird, TASS reports.
The UK side itself invited the Russian side to participate in the conference, accredited the Russian delegate, but then refused to issue him a visa, thus sabotaging the visit," the embassy pointed out. "Up until now, such incidents were typical of the US, which occasionally denies visas to official representatives heading to participate in UN events." "Apparently, this practice is now being taken up by London," the Russian diplomats noted.
"It is with great regret that we are watching the rhetoric on 'Global Britain' and 'rules-based order' lead to new violations of international law and generally accepted norms of diplomatic communication. The UK obviously prefers arbitrarily formulated 'rules' over universally agreed legal norms, and convening narrow conferences of like-minded participants over inclusive discussions with a diversity of opinions," the embassy stated.
Earlier, the UK government refused to accredit Russia’s Sputnik news agency and the RT TV channel to the conference. According to the statement by the UK Foreign Office, Russian media outlets were denied accreditation for their "active role in spreading misinformation." The Russian Embassy in the UK condemned this decision, deeming it "a blatant interference of the executive power into the work of the media."
The Global Conference for Media Freedom is held in London on July 10-11, hosted by UK and Canadian Foreign Ministers Jeremy Hunt and Chrystia Freeland. The forum will deal with such issues as protection of journalists’ rights, prosecution of people committing crimes against media representatives and countering fake news.