WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Russia is expelling a Moscow-based correspondent for a leading Polish newspaper in a retaliatory move after a Russian reporter was stripped of his right to reside in Poland amid suspicions of espionage.
Russia's Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered Waclaw Radziwinowicz, a correspondent for the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, to leave Russia within 30 days. The ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Polish journalist was ordered out of Russia "on the principle of reciprocity."
Poland's Foreign Ministry denounced the expulsion of Radziwinowicz as "unjustified" and "purely retaliatory" and said it would have "negative consequences" for relations between the two countries, which are already deeply strained over Russia's actions in Ukraine and other matters.
Roman Imielski, managing editor for the Gazeta Wyborcza, and the Polish Foreign Ministry said the move was in response to the expulsion from Poland of Leonid Sviridov, a Russian reporter with the Kremlin-funded Rossiya Segodnya news service. He left Poland last Saturday.
Poland's Internal Security Agency said last year that Sviridov was a threat to Poland's security, though it never revealed what evidence it had against him. Polish media said Sviridov was suspected of spying for Russia, something Sviridov denied.
Although Poland's security agency declared Sviridov a "danger to the Polish state" in 2014, authorities allowed him to remain in Poland for 14 more months while the administrative case against him ran its course.
In interviews with The Associated Press, Sviridov depicted himself as the victim of anti-Russian feeling in Poland as ties soured between the two nations. He argued that if he were really a danger, Polish officials would have expelled him long before.
But Jacek Kozlowski, an official for the province of Mazovia, where Warsaw is based, told the AP he had seen the security agency's file on Sviridov, and while he could not reveal its contents, he insisted the case against the Russia was strong.
Poland's Foreign Ministry insisted the expulsion of an experienced correspondent who has worked for many years in Russia was unfair.
"(Radziwinowicz's) many years of work as a correspondent in the Russian Federation cannot in any way be compared to the activities that Leonid Sviridov carried out in Poland," the ministry said.
It said Sviridov's expulsion "had no connection with his activities as a journalist."
The Polish ministry also said Russia's actions violate the principle of journalistic independence and "will have negative consequences on Polish society being informed about Russia and on Polish-Russian relations."
The Interfax news agency on Friday quoted Radziwinowicz as saying that he was ordered to leave Russia within a month and was stripped of his Foreign Ministry accreditation, which makes it impossible for him to work in Russia.
Radziwinowicz was reportedly involved in publishing a book of discussions between Gazeta Wyborcza's editor-in-chief Adam Michnik and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
In a Twitter post on Friday, Navalny's associate Vladimir Ashurkov hailed the journalist for an "important role in preparing the book."