Latvia has banned the Russian state-controlled television channel RT, formerly known as Russia Today, saying that it was under control of Dmitry Kiselev, who is on the EU’s sanctions list.
On Tuesday, Latvia’s media watchdog, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), banned seven multilingual channels operated by RT. It also said Latvia will urge other EU countries to follow suit.
“We have carried out a very large inspection of the true beneficiaries and owner’s bodies in all the media […]. We will inform all EU member states [as] we believe that a similar decision should be taken throughout the European Union,” Ivars Abolins, president of NEPLP, was quoted by Latvia’s public broadcaster LSM.
The media watchdog concluded that RT was under “effective control” by Kiselev, sanctioned by the EU due to his role in promoting Kremlin’s propaganda during Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The authorities said the banned programmes also attempted to present Latvia as a failed state.
Kiselev mocked the move, saying he has never been in charge of RT, according to Associated Press. He is officially the head of Russia’s state-controlled media group Rossiya that includes RIA Novosti and Sputnik.
Speaking to Russian media, Kiselev said that Latvia should apologise to the channel and put it back on air.
RT is widely seen in the Baltic states as a Kremlin propaganda tool. In the past years, Baltic countries banned, temporarily suspended, or forced out several Russian media channels, including RTR Planeta in Lithuania and Sputnik in Estonia.