Moscow sees the closure of RT-affiliated companies’ accounts by a German bank as “political pressure” on Russia and will react in kind if the work of the Russian media in Germany is impeded, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“We consider such an openly hostile attitude … toward media, including the Russian ones, unacceptable,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday. She referred to the decision of the German Commerzbank to close the accounts of RT’s video agency Ruptly and RT DE Productions GmbH which runs the German-language website by May 31.
Such actions are an “element of political pressure” on journalists and they constitute a “violation of Germany’s commitment to protect the freedom of speech,” Zakharova said.
The Commerzbank decision came just about a month after RT announced its plans to launch a German-language TV channel later this year.
Zakharova said that it is such plans that apparently sparked an angry reaction among the “anti-Russian” forces within the German media and establishment and have led to what she described as a “persecution” campaign.
All actions of the Russian broadcaster were legally valid. Therefore, such a primitive approach apparently was chosen to obstruct its work.
RT has been trying to find a replacement for Commerzbank, but several financial institutions have either ignored RT’s inquiries or refused to open accounts on its behalf.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has called on Berlin to stop obstructing the work of Russian journalists in Germany and lift all restrictions imposed against the Russian media. “Otherwise, we will have to take tough reciprocal measures against German media working in Russia,” Zakharova warned.
Russia has its own concerns about the work of the German media and German journalists on its territory, Zakharova noted. She added, though, that all such issues are resolved in accordance with the law and on the basis of “mutual respect” and dialogue.
“We would very much like to see Germany doing the same,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman added.
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