Moscow announced that journalists from what it deems 'unfriendly countries' would not be allowed to attend this year's St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, marking the latest move by the Kremlin to hinder Western journalists from covering Russia.
Held annually since 1997, the economic forum is considered Russia's version of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. President Vladimir Putin uses the forum, one of the country's showpiece events, to advertise Russia's economy to global investors. This year the forum will be held June 14-17.
Western journalists have never been banned from covering the forum in such a sweeping way, according to Reuters. But this ban - announced Saturday - comes amid ever-rising tensions between Moscow and Western countries that have imposed extensive sanctions on Russia over the country's ongoing war in Ukraine.
'It was decided not to accredit media outlets from unfriendly countries to the SPIEF this time,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state-owned news outlet Tass on Saturday. SPIEF is the forum's acronym.
The Kremlin's list of 'unfriendly countries' is composed of those that have sanctioned Russia over the war in Ukraine.
'Interest in SPIEF is always great, all other journalists will work on the site,' Peskov also said.
Some Western reporters were initially accredited to cover the forum this year.
Reuters' Moscow bureau received a confirmation of accreditation Thursday but was notified the next day that accreditation for its reporters had been canceled.
Foreign journalists have already been leaving Russia in droves for safety reasons since the country invaded Ukraine last year.
Those who have opted to stay face escalating risks, including arbitrary detention. American reporter Evan Gershkovich, who works for The Wall Street Journal, has been detained for over two months in Russia on espionage accusations that he and the U.S. government deny.
Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.