This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed anger after he claimed the United States had not issued visas to journalists seeking to accompany him to the United Nations, with Russian officials vowing to retaliate against U.S. journalists in Russia.
“We won’t forget — we will not forgive this,” said Lavrov, who is scheduled to chair several UN Security Council meetings starting on April 24 in New York as Russia assumes the rotating presidency of the council.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately comment about the claim of the visa denials, saying it could not speak on specific visa requests because of privacy rules.
“The United States takes seriously its obligations as host country of the UN under the UN Headquarters Agreement, including with respect to visa issuance,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.
The rift comes weeks after U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on allegations of espionage that The Wall Street Journal reporter, his publication, and U.S. officials strongly denied.
Gershkovich was the first foreign journalist arrested on spying allegations since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He had been reporting on Russia for more than five years at the time of his arrest. He is a fluent Russian speaker, the son of emigres who left the Soviet Union for the United States during the Cold War.
Most Western journalists who had been reporting in Russia left the country following the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, facing tightened reporting, visas, and accreditation regulations.
In his comments, Lavrov said Russia “will not forgive nor forget” the U.S. refusal to issue visas to the Russian journalists.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned of retaliation against U.S. journalists.
“We will find formats to respond to this so that the Americans remember for a long time that such things must not be done,” Ryabkov was quoted by state-run news agencies as saying.