As of today, Lithuania will stop broadcasting the Russian-language state television channel RT. It is not the first shutdown of Russian-language media in the region.
After Latvia, the state radio and television commission in Vilnius also placed a ban on five channels of the foreign broadcaster available in the Baltic EU country on Wednesday. The step was justified by the fact that RT is controlled by the journalist Dmitri Kisseljow, who is on the EU sanctions list. A statement by the Foreign Ministry was also taken into account.
The lock is said to take effect on Thursday. In addition to the RT channels in Russian and Spanish, the documentation channel and all HD versions of the channels are also affected. RT was formerly known as Russia Today and is considered the mouthpiece of the Russian government. Kisseljow is one of the Kremlin’s main propagandists – he was sanctioned by the EU in response to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
Lithuania’s media supervision is following a decision by the regulator in neighboring Latvia the previous week, which was sharply criticized by Kisseljow and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The National Council for Electronic Mass Media in Riga again submitted further information on Tuesday to prove Kisselev’s control of RT. The 66-year-old is the general director of the state agency Rossija Segodnja (Russia today), which includes RT and other media. He is also deputy director general of Russian state television.
Lithuania and Latvia had previously repeatedly banned broadcasting on several Russian TV channels due to accusations of biased reporting. Critics see this as a restriction of freedom of expression and doubt the effectiveness of the blocks. Proponents, on the other hand, approve of the broadcast bans in response to the propaganda on Moscow’s state television.
- Test image: © Dirk Schumann – Fotolia.com