London fears closing RT would trigger tit-for-tat backlash against BBC, says ambassador

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MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. British authorities are aware that shutting down RT’s branch in London will result in consequences for the BBC’s office in Russia, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

“The RT TV channel has come under strong pressure. It is becoming popular here and a lot of people watch it and want to see an alternative viewpoint. So, the channel has started facing some serious heat. The thing is that they cannot close it immediately, moreover, there is an understanding that if RT is closed here in London, similar measures will be taken against the BBC,” Yakovenko explained.

The ambassador noted that London is trying to create “a kind of a toxic environment” around Russian news agencies, and the envoy went on to point out, “calls are even being made, in particular in Scotland’s parliament, that their property should be seized and no interviews should be given to them.”

“It seems to me that the UK authorities have taken a wrong approach. They should uphold freedom of press and we will incentivize them towards this,” Yakovenko noted.

Russia’s telecom and media watchdog, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, launched probes on December 21 into the BBC’s websites and the BBC World News channel in order to check their compliance with Russian laws. The move came the day right after British media regulator Ofcom announced that RT TV had violated impartiality rules. A BBC spokesperson told TASS the broadcaster works in Russia in full compliance with the country’s laws.

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