RT France closes after EU sanctions, Moscow vows retaliation – DW – 01/21/2023

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

The broadcaster issued a statement condemning the news. Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused France of intimidating Russian journalists and vowed 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 instrument for the Kremlin and spreading disinformation. The European Court of Justice turned down an appeal by RT France in July 2022 against the ban.

RT France closes after EU sanctions, Moscow vows retaliation – DW – 01/21/2023
The EU blocked Russian media broadcasting in Europe following Russia’s invasion of UkraineImage: Simon Daval/Maxppp/dpa/picture alliance

But RT France continued to produce and distribute programs available via virtual private networks (VPN), the French AFP news agency said.

Why was RT France closed?

The broadcaster said it would not be able to operate after the freezing of its assets, which came as part of the EU’s ninth round of sanctions on Russia. Issued last month, the sanctions included additional bans on four Russian channels.

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

The channel warned that 123 of its journalists risk not receiving their January salaries as a result of the asset freeze. The journalists, 77 of whom are press card holders, would lose their jobs as well.

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

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned of retaliation if “the French authorities do not stop intimidating Russian journalists,” the Russian Tass news agency reported.

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

AFP cited the French Finance Ministry saying that the decision was not on Paris’ initiative but rather in compliance with the EU sanctions.

rmt/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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