Russia bans ‘unfriendly’ countries’ journalists from showpiece economic gathering
Russian President Vladimir Putin answers questions at the Gostiny Dvor studio during the annual "Direct Line with Vladimir Putin broadcast live" by Russian TV channels and radio stations in Moscow on June 15, 2017.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Saturday that journalists from countries that Russia regards as unfriendly have been banned from covering this year’s economic forum in St Petersburg, one of the country’s showpiece events.

The move underlines the intensifying animosity between Russia and countries that have imposed sanctions connected to the fighting in Ukraine or that have criticised Moscow.

The June 14 to 17 St Petersburg International Economic Forum has for decades been Russia’s vehicle for touting its development and seeking investors. Putin’s appearances at the forum have been highly visible and he often used the occasion to hold roundtable discussions with international news executives.

“Yes, indeed. It was decided not to accredit media outlets from unfriendly countries to the SPIEF this time,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as telling state news agency Tass.

Russia formally designates scores of countries including the United States, Canada, European Union members and Australia as “unfriendly” in connection with sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine.

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