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Moscow bans Deutsche Welle bureau in Russia in tit-for-tat move

Moscow bans Deutsche Welle bureau in Russia in tit-for-tat move

Russia retaliates against Germany’s ban on the German-language channel of Russian state TV network RT.

Russia has said it is closing the Moscow bureau of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and revoking staff accreditations in Russia, in response to Berlin’s ban on the German-language channel of Russian state TV network RT.

Thursday’s announcement comes with tensions mounting between Russia and the West, particularly over fears of a Russian invasion of Europe’s ally Ukraine.

The closure also highlights the Kremlin’s increasingly hostile position towards foreign media in the wake of several high-profile expulsions of prominent foreign journalists.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday it will also “terminate the satellite and other broadcasting [output] of Deutsche Welle” on Russian territory.

It added that it was initiating the process of designating the German media a “foreign agent” and said that further reciprocal measures will be announced in the future.

Deutsche Welle – a German state-owned broadcaster – has services in 30 languages, including Russian.

Berlin’s ban


The moves comes after Germany’s broadcasting regulator on Wednesday announced it was banning the transmission of the channel RT DE over the lack of a broadcasting licence.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the move was an “infringement” on freedom of speech, while RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called the decision “complete nonsense”.

RT DE – the German-language branch of RT – was blocked from Europe’s satellite network on December 22 at the request of German authorities, less than a week after going on air. But it was still available over the internet and via a mobile app.

In its response to the suspension, RT DE said it was broadcast from Moscow and had a Serbian broadcasting licence, which it said gives it the right to broadcast in Germany under European law.

But the German regulator said the channel was based in Berlin and did not have a “legitimate permit under European law”.

RT has been banned in several countries


Launched in 2005 as Russia Today, state-funded RT has expanded with channels and websites in languages including English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

It has been accused by Western countries of distributing disinformation and Kremlin-friendly propaganda.

It has generated controversy in many countries, including the United States, where it was required to register as a “foreign agent”, and in the UK, where authorities have threatened to revoke its broadcasting licence.

The channel has been banned in several countries, including the ex-Soviet republics Lithuania and Latvia.

In September, Google-owned YouTube issued a warning to RT DE for violating its coronavirus disinformation guidelines and then shuttered two channels for breaching user terms.

A third channel was blocked in December for trying to circumvent the earlier terminations.

Reporters expelled


In August, Moscow expelled a veteran BBC correspondent in retaliation for a Russian correspondent being denied accreditation by London.

Three months later, a Dutch correspondent was expelled on years-old administrative violations.

The decision to shut down the German media outlet comes following months of unprecedented pressure on independent media from Russian authorities.

Russia last year slapped a number of media outlets and journalists with the “foreign agent” label that requires them to carry out tedious administrative procedures.

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