Russia declares independent news site The Moscow Times 'undesirable'

(Reuters) -Russia's prosecutor general on Wednesday declared independent media outlet the Moscow Times an "undesirable organisation", effectively banning it in the country.

In a statement published on its site, the prosecutor's office said: "The work of the publication is aimed at discrediting the decisions of the leadership of the Russian Federation in both foreign and domestic policy."

In a statement, the Moscow Times said that the designation "comes as no surprise" and promised to continue working.

It said: "Our jobs are going to become more difficult. Anyone in Russia who interacts with us in any way will now be at risk of criminal prosecution. But we refuse to be silenced."

Founded in 1992 as an English-language newspaper, in its early years it catered mostly to Western expats as Russia opened up to the outside world after the fall of the Soviet Union.

It became one of the only Russia-based publications in English to maintain editorial independence, and later opened a Russian-language service.

Among its former staff are many prominent journalists including Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter currently standing trial in Russia on spying charges which he and his paper vehemently deny.

The Moscow Times relocated to the Netherlands after Russia introduced sweeping censorship laws shortly after launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russian authorities had previously designated the outlet a "foreign agent", as well as blocking its site in Russia.

(Writing by Felix Light; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Toby Chopra)