Guardian journalist Luke Harding, refused entry to Russia at the weekend, can get a new visa if he complies with accreditation procedures, an official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
Harding claimed his visa was annulled by a border official who told him, "For you, Russia is closed."
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded that "no one annulled his visa" and that Harding was refused entry because he had failed to collect his accreditation documents before leaving Russia for two months at the end of last year.
Harding rejected the claim. "Ministry says I was kicked out because I "failed to pick up press card". Hilarious," he wrote on his Twitter blog on Wednesday.
"If Harding wants to continue his work in Russia, we see no obstacle for this. He needs to settle his status according to accreditation rules for foreign journalists and apply for a visa to the Russian embassy. They are ready to grant it to him," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
Harding had fallen foul of the Russian authorities on a number of occasions, mainly for filing articles claiming Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has a $40 billion offshore account. He was also responsible for reporting on U.S. diplomatic cables leaked to The Guardian by WikiLeaks, including allegations that Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin has become a "virtual mafia state".
MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti)