Russia threatens to ban British press if UK shuts down RT
Russia on Tuesday threatened to kick British media outlets out of the country after the U.K. threatened to do the same to Moscow-backed TV network RT in response to a poisoning attack the British government says Russia is “highly likely” responsible for.
“I can tell you right now that not a single British media outlet will be working in our country if they shut RT down,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday.
Britain’s media regulator, Ofcom, said it would consider taking away RT’s broadcast licenses if it was discovered that the Russian government had been involved in last week’s poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, has said that it would be an insult to the concept of freedom of the press if it got its license revoked over the incident.
“We disagree with the position taken by Ofcom; our broadcasting has in no way changed this week, from any other week and continues to adhere to all standards,” an RT spokesperson said, according to The Guardian. “By linking RT to unrelated matters, Ofcom is conflating its role as a broadcasting regulator with matters of state.”
On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible for the poisoning.
“Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country,” May said. “Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”
May said the Russians have until midnight on Tuesday to explain how Skripal was poisoned.
On Wednesday, the prime minister is expected to provide updates on any “further measures,” according to The Guardian.
Members of Parliament called for Ofcom to shut down RT in 2005, calling the channel a propaganda tool of the Russian government.