LONDON: Russia banned on Wednesday 29 British journalists, including five Guardian journalists, four BBC journalists and the Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator from entering the country. 

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “The British journalists included in the list are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information about Russia and events in Ukraine and Donbas.”

The statement added that the decision was a response to Western sanctions and the “spreading of false information about Russia,” as well as the “anti-Russian actions of the British government.”

The list targets British journalists working for the BBC, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, Sky News and a number of other outlets.

The editors-in-chief of the Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Independent were also listed.

Additionally, Russia banned 20 individuals described as “associated with the defense complex,” namely military figures, senior aerospace figures and MPs, including UK Minister of State for Defense Procurement Jeremy Quin and Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston.

Russia said that the persons listed “participate in decision-making about supplying weapons to Ukraine that are used by local death squads and Nazi groups to kill civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure.”

A Guardian spokesperson said: “This is a disappointing move by the Russian government and a bad day for press freedom. Trusted, accurate journalism is more important now than ever, and despite this decision, we will continue to report robustly on Russia and on its invasion of Ukraine.”

Russia had previously cracked down on Russian and foreign independent news outlets in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine and restricted access to social media platforms.

Numerous independent media outlets had been taken off the air and had their websites blocked. Meanwhile, access to several foreign news organizations’ websites, including the BBC and Deutsche Welle, was also blocked.