Russia Finds an Excuse for the Expulsion of Luke Harding

It can be quite exhausting to keep on pretending to take this government seriously when they say things like this.

From the Washington Post:

The Foreign Ministry said that although Harding received a visa extension through May in November, he left the country “for London for his own business without receiving a foreign correspondent press card issued in his name.” It said he could work in Russia until his visa expires if he resolves the accreditation issues, according to the Interfax news agency.

Well it is going to be difficult to explain why they didn’t bother to explain this to Harding when he was arrested and deported.  From Julia Ioffe’s piece on the incident – the MFA might have been referring to a different set of “rules”:

The young customs officer called over her supervisor, who looked at the screen and also did a double take. “The Russian Federation is closed to you,” Harding recalls the man saying as he punched a blue “annulled” stamp on his perfectly valid Russian visa. “Just because you have a Russian visa doesn’t mean you can enter the country,” the supervisor said. (…)

There are very different rulesfor Russian journalists. We foreigners are much more likely, asHarding’s case shows, to get kicked out (highly unpleasant and stressful toanyone who has built a life here) rather than beatenor killed, but there are rules — simultaneously strict and unpredictable –for us, too. We too have learned, for better or worse, to tread carefully.  (…)

Although we can never be exactlysure whom we offend with which article (it’s not just Putin who calls the shotson this), the ultimate message is always the same: You are guests, you play byour rules, and you play at our pleasure.