Freezing of RT France assets: the channel closes, Moscow promises to react | War in Ukraine

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Freezing of RT France assets: the channel closes, Moscow promises to react | War in Ukraine

Xenia Fedorova, Managing Director of RT France, a branch of Russian public broadcaster RT, formerly known as Russian Today ( archive photo)

Denouncing an act of “censorship”, RT France, the French branch of the Russian channel RT suspended in the European Union, announced on Saturday its closure following the freezing of its assets, Moscow promising retaliatory measures against the media French in Russia.

France was the only EU member state to host an RT subsidiary on its soil. It had been there since 2017.

After five years of relentlessness, the authorities in power have therefore achieved their ends: the closure of RT France […] The General Directorate of the Treasury has decided to freeze the bank accounts of RT France, making it impossible to prosecute of our activity, announced on Twitter Xenia Fedorova, president and director of the chain.

This decision follows the freezing of the bank accounts of the chain, made public the day before.

A few hours earlier on Saturday, Moscow reacted to the freezing of accounts by promising retaliatory measures against French media in Russia.

These measures will be remembered if the French authorities do not stop terrorizing Russian journalists, warned a source within Russian diplomacy, quoted by the Russian news agencies Ria Novosti and Tass.

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Questioned by AFP, the French Ministry of the Economy explained on Friday that the assets of the chain had been frozen in application of the most recent European sanctions and not at the direct initiative of the ;French State.

Unlike the initial sanctions decided after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine in February 2022, those taken in December provide for a freezing of the assets of the targeted entities, specified this source.

Among these entities is ANO TV Novosti, the parent company that owns 100% of RT France, which in turn explains the freezing of RT France's assets, she said. continued.

Accused of being instruments of Kremlin disinformation, the media Sputnik and RT (including its French-language version RT France) have been banned from broadcasting in the EU from March 2, 2022, on television and on Internet, following an agreement of the Twenty-Seven shortly after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Seized by RT France, European justice confirmed this decision in July. This initial set of sanctions only prohibited the broadcast of RT's content in the EU, not its production itself.

So far, RT France has continued therefore to produce and distribute content, which can be consulted despite the ban by a virtual private network (VPN), a service allowing you to browse the web by circumventing blocking.

Xenia Fedorova rejects the accusations against the channel as a whole, assuring in her press release on Saturday that she has treated the war in Ukraine with vigilance and in a balanced manner. It denounces an arbitrary measure, a political decision outside any previously established legal framework. This is called censorship.

The question arises of the future of media pluralism in France, of their representativeness, of their independence – at least moral – from freedom of thought and expression in our society, continues Ms. Fedorova.

In a statement released on Saturday evening, the National Union of journalists deplore a closure that will cause a hundred layoffs. Dismissals targeting employees already hard hit by the stigmatization and amalgams they have been suffering for several months, especially on social networks, the press release continues.

According to the president of the channel , 123 French employees, including 77 press card holders, risk today not receiving their salary for the month of January and will lose their jobs.

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