Comment on the situation with the bank accounts of the Russia Today Office in the UK

Submitted on Mon, 10/31/2016 - 14:11

Comment by the Information and Press Department on the situation with the bank accounts of the Russia Today Office in the UK

The abnormal situation surrounding the Russia Today Office in the United Kingdom continues to evoke serious concern. The NATWEST Bank persists in its intention to close the RT accounts, thereby creating an objective obstacle to the channel’s further functioning.

At our initiative, this issue was raised with the British side at the latest meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council. Our partners’ reasoning to the effect that the UK Government supposedly has nothing to do with these development is, mildly speaking, dubious, given that the ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND, of which NATWEST is a subsidiary, is 70 percent  government-owned.

It is also indicative that the British tried to justify their behaviour by alleging that RT had “low ratings” in the United Kingdom. This argument is not only doubtful – according to statistics, RT has over 4 billion YouTube views – but also calls for questions: If a Russian TV channels becomes more popular than a British one, would it be closed for certain? It is also odd that a British bank (if it is after all a bank that is behind the mess) should count ratings rather than money.

Actions of this sort, combined with a clear bias against the Russian TV channel demonstrated by the UK media regulator, OFCOM, are part of attempts to oust from the British media space an internationally popular broadcaster that offers an alternative point of view on global affairs.

We hope that the UK authorities will prove in practice their declared commitment to the principles of media freedom and will take steps to facilitate a solution to this problem.