David Satter, an adviser for U.S. news service Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has been barred from Russia and was told by an embassy official that his presence in the country was considered “undesirable.”
Satter has been banned from entering Russia for five years for overstaying a visa last year, the Foreign Ministry said today in a statement. His application, using a notification number provided by the Foreign Ministry and submitted to the Russian embassy in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, was rejected last month, according to a statement yesterday on RFE’s website.
“It was not a matter of my having done something,” Satter said in a video published on the Guardian newspaper’s website. “No accusations were made against me. It was a statement that my presence on the territory of the Russian Federation was undesirable. So we see a tendency toward a return to Cold War tactics and even beyond.”
The U.S. embassy has lodged a diplomatic protest, according to RFE’s statement. The often tense relationship between Russia and the U.S. has shown improvement during talks in the past months about resolving the conflict in Syria after souring when American ex-security contractor Edward Snowden arrived in Moscow in June.
The author of three books on Russia and the Soviet Union and the Financial Times’ correspondent in Moscow from 1976 to 1982 had moved to the Russian capital in September, according to his website.
Satter spent about five days in Russia “illegally” in November, according to the Foreign Ministry. He received his accreditation from the ministry on Nov. 21 and was supposed to immediately go to the Federal Migration Service to get his long-term visa, although he showed up there only on Nov. 26, according to the statement.
His case was heard by a district court in Moscow on Nov. 29, where he was fined and ordered to leave the country, the ministry said. Satter left Russia Dec. 4.
Satter said he “complied completely” with all instructions from Russia’s Foreign Ministry during his visa application process, according to a statement on his website.
On Dec. 25 Alexei Gruby, a diplomat at the Russian embassy in Kiev, read a statement to Satter that said “the competent organs have decided that your presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable,” according to Satter’s website.