Russia shuts down German media outlet in response to RT block
Amid the tense relations Moscow maintains these days with its neighbors in Western Europe, the incident is now being described as an attack on freedom.
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In a decision that many have called as a reckoning of the Russian government, after the Licensing and Supervision Commission (ZAK) took the RT media outlet in Germany off the air for operating under a Serbian license, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced the closure of the Moscow offices of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) as well as the revocation of its journalists' accreditations.
Through a statement, the ministry also indicated that it would end the satellite and other transmissions of the German network on Russian soil, initiating a process that recognizes DW as a "foreign media outlet that performs the functions of a foreign agent."
DW's Moscow bureau chief Juri Rescheto says the decision to shut down the Russia office was "a great surprise."— DW News (@dwnews) February 3, 2022
The Russian Foreign Ministry told him to close the bureau by tomorrow morning. pic.twitter.com/oIKZHKB3QD
Peter Limbourg, CEO of Deutsche Welle, said they expected "some action" from Russia, but considered it a "totally exaggerated" reaction by the Russian government.
Limbourg indicated that if it were a reckoning for the ban on RT, then the response went further, emphasizing in particular that "Russian journalists have valid permission to continue working in Germany, considering the differences between DW, a public service broadcaster , and RT, state broadcaster.”
"Even if we have to leave the country, we will intensify our informative work," stressed the director of DW, warning that they will not ignore what is happening in Russia and that the situation only reinforces the will of their media outlet to report more and more about the events in the country.
"This is another sign that the Russian government is not interested in freedom of the press and freedom of opinion," said Limbourg, while indicating that DW will take legal action to try to reverse the veto.
The German government also spoke through the Minister of Culture and Media, Claudia Roth, who criticized the decision, also emphasizing the differences between the RT and DW cases.
“DW is an independent organization. This means that, unlike RT DE, the German state has no influence on programming. Therefore, I urge the Russian side not to exploit RT's license issues for political purposes," Roth said.
Moscow-based RT, formerly called Russia Today, is a Russian government-affiliated network that offers its services in German, English, Spanish, Arabic, and French. For its part, DW, a public service broadcaster, has its signal available in 30 languages, including Russian.