Russia bans 81 EU media outlets in tit-for-tat move

Moscow responds to a broadcasting ban on four Russian outlets that the EU accused of spreading Kremlin propaganda.

French outlets were most heavily targeted, with daily newspapers Le Monde and Liberation among the nine banned from the country [Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

Russia has banned 81 media outlets from European Union countries in response to broadcast bans imposed on several Russian state media outlets by Brussels last month.

The 27-member bloc had banned four Russian media outlets from broadcasting in May for what it called the spread of propaganda about the war in Ukraine.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is blocking access to the outlets that are “systematically disseminating false information about the progress” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The Russian side has repeatedly and at various levels warned that politically motivated harassment of domestic journalists and unfounded bans on Russian media in the EU will not go unnoticed,” it said in a statement Tuesday, blaming the EU leadership for the escalation and calling the ban “proportionate”.

The outlets are from 25 European countries and also include pan-European media like Politico. French outlets were most heavily targeted with nine bans, affecting global news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP), and Le Monde and Liberation newspapers among others.

The German Der Spiegel, the Spanish El Pais and El Mundo, the Finnish Yle, the Irish national broadcaster RTE, and Italy’s RAI television channel and la Repubblica newspaper are some of the other prominent banned outlets.

Moscow said that it is open to rescinding its ban on the outlets if restrictions on Russian media are lifted.

Last month, the EU branded Voice of Europe, the RIA news agency, and the Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspapers as “Kremlin-linked propaganda networks” and stripped of their broadcasting rights in the bloc.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma lower house of parliament and an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said in May that the EU move had shown that the West refuses to accept any alternative point of view and “does not tolerate” freedom of speech despite appearing to champion it publicly.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies