Russia Retaliates Against German Broadcaster After Ban On RT Deutsch

Amid the ongoing Ukraine standoff, Russia and Germany have intensified their long simmering spat over foreign media access. After Germany banned RT Deutsch – which is Russia’s state-run international media network in Germany – on Wednesday, Moscow has retaliated:

The Russian office of the German state broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (DW), is to be closed as part of the “first round” of a response to Berlin’s “unfriendly actions” against RT DE, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Additionally Russian media details, “The German outlet will also be barred from broadcasting in Russia via a satellite or through other means, the statement added. All staff members at DW’s Russian office are to be stripped of their press credentials, according to the foreign ministry.”

DW will now be recognized as a “foreign media outlet acting as a foreign agent” under Russian law, according to new policies being implemented in response to the spat by the Kremlin, which is further said to now be compiling a list of additional German state and public entities to be targeted in a ban.

Germany previously cast the RT ban as fundamentally based on a licensing and legal hurdle that the broadcaster failed to comply with. According to a prior German regulator statement:

“RT DE,” the service’s official name, was prohibited “because it does not have the necessary broadcasting license,” according to the German broadcasting regulator’s oversight commission. Following a German complaint, RT’s German-language broadcasts had been blocked by its satellite broadcaster since December 22, although the broadcasts were still available online.

But RT itself has hit back by calling it an “illegal” act of censorship which is connected with current geopolitical tensions surrounding Ukraine and the issue of NATO expansion – the latter issue which RT consistently editorializes against.

Deutsche Welle, for its part, has slammed the fresh Thursday declaration by Moscow, with DW Director Peter Limbourg saying, “We are being made a pawn here in a way that media only have to experience in autocracies.”

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