Russia Bans Distribution Of 81 EU News Outlets In Retaliatory Step

The European Union said in May it was suspending the distribution of what it described as four "Kremlin-linked propaganda networks," stripping them of their broadcasting rights in the bloc.

Russia Bans Distribution Of 81 EU News Outlets In Retaliatory Step

Italy's foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned the Russian decision. (Representational)

Moscow:

Russia said on Tuesday it was banning access inside Russia to the broadcasts of 81 different media outlets from the European Union including Agence France-Presse and Politico in retaliation for a similar EU ban on several Russian media outlets.

The European Union said in May it was suspending the distribution of what it described as four "Kremlin-linked propaganda networks," stripping them of their broadcasting rights in the bloc.

It said at the time that the ban applied to Voice of Europe, to the RIA news agency and to the Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspapers.

The Russian Foreign Ministry hit back on Tuesday, releasing a list of 81 media outlets from 25 EU member states, as well as pan-European outlets, whose broadcasts it said would no longer be available on Russian territory.

It accused the outlets of "systematically distributing inaccurate information" about what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

France's Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, Austria's ORF state TV company, Ireland's RTE broadcaster, and Spain's EFE news agency were among the outlets affected by the Russian move along with many other national broadcasters, newspapers, and Politico.

"The Russian Federation has repeatedly warned at various levels that politically motivated harassment of domestic journalists and unjustified bans on Russian media in the EU will not go unanswered," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In spite of this, Brussels and the capitals of the bloc's countries preferred to follow the path of escalation, forcing Moscow to adopt mirror and proportional countermeasures."

It said it would review its own ban if the EU lifted its restrictions on RIA, Izvestia and the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, all of which it described as Russian media outlets.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament, said in May that the EU move had shown that the West refused to accept any alternative point of view and was destroying freedom of speech.

Italy's foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned the Russian decision to ban access to dozens of European media outlets, including Italian broadcasters Rai and La7 and newspapers La Repubblica and La Stampa.

"We regret the unjustified measure taken against these Italian broadcasters and newspapers, which have always provided objective and unbiased information on the conflict in Ukraine," the ministry said.

AFP declined to comment. Politico and RTE did not immediately reply to requests for comment on the move, which comes a day before the Russian trial of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges is due to begin.

The first American journalist to be detained on spy charges in Russia since the Cold War more than three decades ago, Gershkovich, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has denied he is a Central Intelligence Agency spy. The Journal says Gershkovich was doing his job and denies he is a spy.

Many Western news organisations pulled staff out of Russia after it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and passed laws soon afterwards that set long prison sentences for "discrediting" the armed forces.

Russian officials say large parts of the Western media spread false and excessively unbalanced stories about Russia, and that Western media organisations are engaged in an information war against Russia.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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