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22 Dec, 2021 11:07

Moscow may mirror Western restrictions on Russia media – Lavrov

Moscow may mirror Western restrictions on Russia media – Lavrov

After years of tolerating ongoing harassment of Russian publicly-funded media in some Western nations, Moscow may start applying mirror restrictions, the foreign minister revealed in an interview with RT on Wednesday.

Sergey Lavrov expressed the Russian government’s frustration with the pressure that Russian press outlets have been facing. The latest example, he said, is the sustained effort to silence RT’s new German-language TV channel, which was kicked off a satellite broadcasting service less than a week after its launch. Its channel was previously blocked by US tech giant YouTube.

Moscow does not believe German explanations that such incidents are isolated actions by private companies and independent regulators, and perceives them as elements of a coordinated anti-Russian campaign, Lavrov said.

German officials “will likely again point the finger at social media, YouTube, and claim they acted on their own accord based on their own criteria and that the German government has nothing to do with it. It has,” the minister said. “A state, on whose territory such abuses take place, has the responsibility to stop them.”

Lavrov added that Russia’s patience is running low and that the “temptation” to impose mirror restrictions on German media operating in Russia was growing stronger.

“Until recently, the determination was prevailing not to go down the same path of strangling the press, strangling the media, that our Western partners took,” he said.

But just like with Russian national security, there is a limit to patience.

The top Russian diplomat stressed that while the “German case” stood out, it was part of a wider trend of harassment of Russian media in the West.

German media regulator MABB has forced the Eutelsat service to remove the RT DE broadcast from its 9B satellite this week. The outlet went on air from Moscow last week and has a valid satellite broadcasting license obtained through Serbia under the European Convention of Transfrontier Television.

Tobias Schmid, the chair of the EU’s media regulatory commission ERGA, described the new channel as “a real nuisance” and promised that European officials will “take care of it.”

There has been an effort to undermine RT’s presence in Germany for quite some time. When operating in German jurisdiction, RT DE was denied bank service. 

It also faced YouTube suspensions, which German officials claimed were imposed by US tech giant Google with no input from the German government.

The application to obtain a German-language broadcast license from Moscow through Luxembourg was rejected after reported pressure from Berlin. This led to RT to apply for one in Serbia.

RT has also been repeatedly accused by German media of being a propaganda outlet that allegedly spreads misinformation on behalf of the Kremlin. In some cases, where this opinion was presented as a statement of fact, RT successfully took critics to court in Germany.