Persecution of Russian journalists in the West has reached an unacceptable scale, says Russian Foreign Minister
Harassment of Russian journalists in the United States, Europe and Ukraine has reached “in large scale” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday. Moscow has never wanted to take any action that would affect journalists’ freedoms, but Washington and its allies leave Russia no choice but to reciprocate, the minister told reporters at a joint press conference with the head of Venezuelan diplomacy, Carlos Faria.
Russia is interested in ending this “War on Journalists” Lavrov said, adding that Western nations apparently cannot stop him without “lose face.” Moscow cannot sit idly by given the pressure on its journalists, especially as the persecution has reached such a scale “it’s impossible to bear any longer” he argued.
“Initially, we didn’t want to give a mirror answer that would affect journalists’ rights, but the West has buried freedom of expression with its own hands,” he added. said the minister. However, he did not announce any new measures against foreign media in Russia.
“We didn’t start this war” Lavrov said, adding that the West “just went too far.” The Minister accused Western governments of deviating from the norms of international law and instead creating their own rules that allow them to decide unilaterally what is “freedom of information” and what “Propaganda.”
In particular, the minister referred to French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to ban the Russian broadcaster RT and the Sputnik news agency, first from covering his campaign in 2017, then from accessing the Élysée Palace. in 2018. He also described the two outlets as “organs of influence and propaganda”.
“There are a large number of examples of this type”, Lavrov said on Monday. The Russian military operation in Ukraine, launched at the end of February, has further strained relations between Moscow and the West, including in the field of the media. In response to the Russian offensive, Western countries have introduced bans and restrictions on certain media. As a result of these measures, RT and Sputnik – and even their accounts on some social media platforms – have been made inaccessible in the EU. Australia, Canada and the UK have followed suit.
The United States has a constitutional ban on overt censorship, but YouTube has blocked RT and Sputnik accounts. Russia retaliated by blocking the websites of several Western state-run media, including the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Svoboda and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.