RT France, the French arm of Russia’s state broadcaster, announced its closure on Saturday after a recent round of European Union sanctions froze its assets in France.
The channel released a statement condemning the news. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused France of intimidating Russian journalists and announced retaliatory measures against French media.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the EU issued a ban on Russian media in Europe. Russian broadcasters, including RT, have been accused of being a propaganda tool for the Kremlin and spreading disinformation. The European Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by RT France against the ban in July 2022.
The EU blocked Russian media broadcasts in Europe after Russia invaded Ukraine. Image: Simon Daval/Maxppp/dpa/Picture Alliance
But RT France continued to produce and distribute programs available through virtual private networks (VPN), French news agency AFP said.
Why was RT France closed?
The broadcaster said it was unable to operate after its assets were frozen as part of the EU’s ninth round of sanctions against Russia. Sanctions imposed last month included additional bans on four Russian channels.
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 salaries due to the asset freeze. The journalists, 77 of whom are press card holders, would also lose their jobs.
RT France denied operating illegally in France. She described her reporting as a “breath of fresh air” in a world of less representative media where there is no room for criticism.
The Russian Foreign Ministry warned of retaliation if “the French authorities do not stop intimidating Russian journalists,” the Russian news agency Tass reported.
“The suspension 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.
AFP quoted the French Treasury as saying the decision was not made on Paris’ initiative but in accordance with EU sanctions.
rmt/sms (AFP, Portal)