US 'disappointed' as Russia refuses journalist visas

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States said on Tuesday that it was "disappointed" that Russia had denied a visa to a American journalist who has written three books on the country.

"The US embassy in Moscow has raised our concerns on this case and the treatment of journalists and media organisations in general with Russian authorities," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

"As we've said many times before, hindering the free flow of information undermines the kind of open environment for free debate and discussion that supports innovation and dynamisms."

Washington would continue to monitor the case, she told reporters.

The 66-year-old advisor to Radio Free Europe, and former Financial Times and Wall Street Journal correspondent, said he was then told on Dec 25 that his application for a new visa to Russia had been rejected on the grounds that his presence was "undesirable".

But the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday Mr Satter was denied a multiple-entry visa because he had violated migration rules by failing to report immediately to the Federal Migration Service.

"He was denied a multi-entry visa on the grounds that he grossly violated Russian migration law," the ministry said in a statement.

Current law prevents Mr Satter from applying for a new visa for another five years.