The organization Reporters Without Borders has criticized the blocking of the Russian state television station RT in Lithuania and Latvia. The Baltic countries misused the instrument of EU sanctions, the organization said on Wednesday in Berlin.
Blocking access to certain media or restricting their work is neither the aim nor the content of the sanctions. Therefore, they are not a suitable means of dealing with the sometimes aggressive disinformation of Russian media in the Baltic States. The Lithuanian media regulator rejected the criticism.
Lithuania and Latvia blocked the broadcast of several channels the previous week. The step was justified by the fact that RT was controlled by the journalist Dmitri Kisseljow, who is on the EU sanctions list. The 66-year-old is the general director of the state agency Rossija Segodnja (Russia today), to which RT and other media belong. He is also deputy director general of Russian state television.
The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission disagreed with Reporters Without Borders. According to Mantas Martisius, head of the agency, the ban on RT is both legitimate and proportionate. Therefore, the EU Commission asked for an opinion on the expansion of the sanctions saw no problems, he told the BNS agency.
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.
The Foreign Ministry in Moscow had sharply criticized the channel blockade as “incompetence by the authorities” and as an attempt to roughly push back the Russian language. The Ministry also announced that Kisseljow had nothing to do with RT. It is an “autonomous non-commercial organization” led by journalist Margarita Simonjan. Simonjan is the official editor-in-chief.
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