RT France closes after EU sanctions, Moscow swears retaliation – UKTN – 21/01/2023

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RT France, the French arm of Russia’s state broadcaster, announced on Saturday that it was shutting down after a recent round of European Union sanctions led to the freezing of its assets in France.

The broadcaster has issued a statement condemning the news. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused France of intimidating Russian journalists and promised to take retaliatory measures against French media.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the EU issued a ban on Russian media within Europe. Russian channels, including RT, were accused of being a propaganda tool for the Kremlin and spreading disinformation. The European Court of Justice rejected an appeal from RT France against the closure last July.

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The EU blocked Russian media broadcasts in Europe after the Russian invasion of UkraineImage: Simon Daval/Maxppp/dpa/picture Alliance

But RT France continued to produce and distribute programs available through virtual private networks (VPN), according to the French news agency UKTN.

Why was RT France closed?

The broadcaster said it would not be able to operate after the asset freeze, which was part of the EU’s ninth round of sanctions against Russia. Issued last month, the sanctions include additional bans on four Russian channels.

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RT France said in Saturday’s statement that French authorities have achieved their goal of closing it “after five years of harassment”.

The channel warned that 123 of its journalists risk not receiving their January salary due to the asset freeze. The journalists, of whom 77 press card holders, would also lose their jobs.

RT France denied that it was operating illegally in France. It described its coverage as a “breath of fresh air” in what it said was a world of less representative media with no room for criticism.

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Russia’s foreign ministry warned of retaliation if “French authorities do not stop intimidating Russian journalists,” the Russian news agency Tass reported.

“The blocking of RT France accounts will lead to retaliation against the French media in Russia,” the TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted the Foreign Ministry source as saying.

UKTN quoted France’s finance ministry as saying the decision was not initiated by Paris, but rather in line with EU sanctions.

rmt/sms (UKTN, Reuters)

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