The UK bank accounts of Russian TV broadcaster Russia Today have been shut down, its editor-in-chief has said, in a move that appears to have been sanctioned by the UK government.
Нам закрыли счета в Британии. Все счета. ‘Решение пересмотру не подлежит’. Да здравствует свобода слова!
— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) October 17, 2016″>
It was unclear whether the British government was responsible. The foreign office referred inquiries to the Treasury. The move – if confirmed – casts into doubt the ability of the Kremlin-backed news channel to carry on broadcasting.
The US and Britain said on Sunday that they were considering fresh measures and possible further sanctions against Moscow in protest at Russia’s continuing bombardment of civilians in eastern Aleppo.
Maria Zakharova, a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook: “It looks like, as it leaves the EU, London has decided to leave behind all its obligations towards freedom of speech. As they say, best to start a new life without bad habits.”
Russia Today – now known as RT – is the main instrument of propaganda for the Russian government in the English-speaking world. The channel presents itself as a left-leaning alternative to “mainstream news” under the slogan “Question More”?
In reality, however, its reporting assiduously reflects the Kremlin’s anti-western worldview. It has portrayed Russia’s military intervention in Syria as a campaign against terrorists, and reflects its official position that no civilians have been killed by Russian jets.
The channel typically invites studio guests who endorse the Kremlin’s anti-US views. Guests have included Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway. Another frequent contributor is the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who hosted his own chat show on RT.
Simonyan visited Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy during a trip to London in 2014.
Since RT started broadcasting in the UK about 10 years ago, Ofcom has recorded breaches of the UK broadcasting rules on 14 occasions. It was last investigated in April for accusing the Turkish government of genocide against the Kurds.