Russia declines to renew visa of Spanish reporter for El Mundo

By Thomson Reuters Mar 21, 2024 | 8:02 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has refused to renew the visa of a Spanish journalist for the El Mundo, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

Xavier Colas, a Moscow correspondent who had reported from Russia for 12 years, was told by a Russian official that his visa would not be renewed and he has left Russia, the newspaper said.

“After 12 years reporting from Moscow, the Russian authorities have refused at the last minute to renew my journalist visa,” Colas said on X.

“I have only had 24 hours to leave the country, leaving too much behind. I don’t regret anything,” he said. “I’ve simply done my job: I’ve told what was going on.”

Foreign correspondents are unable to work legally in Russia without a visa and accreditation from the Foreign Ministry.

The Russian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. El Mundo, headquartered in Madrid, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Colas’ book, “Putinistan”, was recently published in Spanish.

Russia has tightened its control over information and the media since the start of the Ukraine war in 2022, and designated many journalists and activists as “foreign agents”.

Since the war began and the arrest of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich in March 2023 on spying charges, almost all U.S. journalists have left Russia. Russia says he was caught red handed. The United States and the Journal say he is innocent.

Most Western countries advise against all travel to Russia and say their citizens should leave. The U.S. has the highest level of warning for Russia – red “4 – Do not travel” – the same level as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and South Sudan and Iran.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Lucy Marks)