Lithuania bans Russian television channel RT, follows Latvia
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania’s media watchdog says it has banned the broadcasts of the state-controlled Russian television channel RT, effective Thursday, following a similar decision made in Baltic neighbor Latvia last week.
The Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania said Wednesday’s decision follows recommendations of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry to close the channel, saying the Russian who allegedly controls RT, Dmitry Kiselev, is currently blacklisted by the European Union.
“This decision is motivated not by violations but the fact that Mr. Kiselev is on the list of persons under the EU sanctions. The same decision was taken in Latvia and now in Lithuania” said Mantas Martisius, chairman of the Lithuanian commission.
The ban includes five different RT channels: RT, RT HD, RT Spanish, RT Documentary and RT Documentary HD.
Kiselev has been on the EU sanctions list for his alleged role in promoting Kremlin propaganda in support of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
He heads the state Rossiya Segodnya media group that includes the RIA Novosti news agency and the Sputnik news service directed at foreign audiences.
Latvia justified its ban the same way on June 30. It urged all other EU members to follow suit in banning RT.
In a reaction to Latvia’s decision, Kiselev said he was never in charge of RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and suggested that Latvia should apologize to the channel and put it back on air.
RT is widely seen in Latvia and in Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania as a Kremlin propaganda tool aiming to influence the region’s sizable ethnic Russian minority.