St. Petersburg, Jun 3 (Agency) BBC journalists have called off their participation in a working breakfast for the media that are recognized by Russia as foreign agents organized on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. The event is organized by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency. The participants include Chairman of the Foreign Correspondents Association Mohd Adib Sayed, European diplomats and news outlets. According to the spokeswoman, the BBC initially signed up for the event but changed its mind at the last moment.
“The BBC calls back, the same person who gave notice the first time, says that his poor knowledge of the language did not allow him to understand the event’s format and he had to call off his participation,” Zakharova said. The official also rejected the accusations that Moscow discriminates against media that are designated as foreign agents. “We will be doing everything we can to debunk these reports when they say that in our country the media that are foreign agents do not enjoy the same rights as the rest of media. This is not true … We continue working with everyone,” Zakharova said at the working breakfast. This year’s forum takes place in person from Wednesday through Saturday at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Center in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. The Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, the umbrella media organization that includes such brands as Sputnik, RIA Novosti, InoSMI, and Baltnews, among others, is an official media partner of the event.