BBC ‘temporarily suspends’ work of news journalists and support staff in Russia

The BBC is “temporarily suspending” the work of all its news journalists and support staff in Russia after authorities passed legislation cracking down on foreign outlets.

Director-general Tim Davie said the new law appeared to “criminalise the process of independent journalism” in the country.

The Russian parliament approved a law on Friday that would make it a criminal offence to spread “fake” or “false” news about the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

It comes after the Kremlin accused the BBC of playing a “determined role in undermining the Russian stability and security”.

A destroyed armoured personnel carrier stands in the central square of the town of Makariv, 60 kilometres west of Kyiv, Ukraine, after a heavy night battle
A destroyed armoured personnel carrier stands in the central square of the town of Makariv, 60 kilometres west of Kyiv, Ukraine, after a heavy night battle (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

A statement from Mr Davie said: “This legislation appears to criminalise the process of independent journalism. It leaves us no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and their support staff within the Russian Federation while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development.

“Our BBC News service in Russian will continue to operate from outside Russia.

“The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs. I’d like to pay tribute to all of them, for their bravery, determination and professionalism.

“We remain committed to making accurate, independent information available to audiences around the world, including the millions of Russians who use our news services. Our journalists in Ukraine and around the world will continue to report on the invasion of Ukraine.”