Latvia bans Russia's RT channel from broadcasting in country

The former Soviet republic wants the removal of network head Dmitry Kiselyov over his alleged role in promoting the annexation of Crimea.

The Baltic nation of Latvia says it has banned the state-controlled Russian television channel RT for as long as network head Dmitry Kiselyov remains on the European Union’s sanctioned persons list for his alleged role in promoting propaganda in support of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The Baltic News Service said on Tuesday that the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council banned seven channels belonging to the multilingual network operated by RT from being broadcast in Latvia, a former Soviet republic of nearly two million.

The news agency listed the channels as RT, RT HD, RT Arabic, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD, RT Documentary and RT TV.

In its ruling, the Latvian national media watchdog said RT also attempted in its programmes to present Latvia as a failed state, BNS reported.

Moscow's Red Square (Nick Potts/PA)
Moscow’s Red Square (Nick Potts/PA)

Along with being a news executive, Mr Kiselyov is a widely-known journalist and a TV presenter in Russia.

He is subject to sanctions in all EU territory.

Latvia said it would inform media regulators in other EU member nations of its decision and is urging them to also ban RT.

The action, made possible by amendments to Latvia’s electronic media law adopted this month, will take effect after it is officially noticed and will remain valid while Mr Kiselyov faces EU’s sanctions.

RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is widely seen in Latvia and in Baltic neighbours Estonia and Lithuania as a Kremlin propaganda tool aiming to influence the Baltic region’s sizeable ethnic Russian minority.

In past years, Latvia and Lithuania have temporarily suspended other Russian state television channels.

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