Canadian telecom firms block Russian state-owned broadcaster RT

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Major Canadian cable operators said they would drop Russian state-owned broadcaster RT from their channel line-up in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rogers Communications RCIb.TO and BCE Inc’s BCE.TO Bell said in separate statements that RT would no longer be available on their systems. Telus Optik TV also tweeted late on Sunday that it was joining the move effective immediately.

Canada joined other countries ramping up sanctions on Moscow, shutting its airspace to Russian aircraft.

Transport Canada said late on Sunday that Russian airline Aeroflot  had violated the ban and that the regulator would launch a review into the incident. 

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez praised Bell for restricting RT, saying Russia had been conducting information warfare across the world. Rogers would replace RT with a broadcast of the Ukrainian flag, he said.

“RT is the propaganda arm of Putin’s regime that spreads disinformation. It has no place here,” Rodriguez added.

The European Union also banned RT and news agency Sputnik. Last week, the bloc unveiled sanctions on RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, calling her “a central figure” of Russian propaganda. 

Alphabet Inc’s Google  on Saturday barred RT and other channels from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps and YouTube videos, similar to a move by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc FB.O, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earlier imposed sanctions against Russia which he said would impose “severe costs on complicit Russian elites”.

Liquor stores in a few Canadian provinces removed Russian vodka and other Russian made alcoholic drinks from their shelves. Canada’s most populous province, also directed the Liquor Control Board Of Ontario on Friday to withdraw all Russian products. 

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath and Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Edmund Blair)

Photo – The logo of Russian RT TV company. EPA/SERGEI CHIRIKOV

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