Lithuania bans Russian broadcaster RT over ties with Kremlin

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Lithuania took Russian broadcaster RT off-air on Wednesday, citing the channel’s ties to EU-sanctioned Russian media executive Dmitry Kiselyov.

The move follows a similar ban on RT in Latvia last week, where regulator called RT “propaganda” and also said the channel was controlled by Kiselyov, the head of Russia’s state-backed Rossiya Segodnya news agency.

“RT is controlled by Kiselev who is sanctioned by EU due to his substantial role in Russian propaganda supporting the 2014 annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing Russian military activities in Ukraine’s east and south east,” Lithuania’s TV watchdog said in a statement.

The ban includes five RT channels – RT, which shows news and current affairs programmes, RT HD, RT Spanish, RT Documentary and RT Documentary HD.

RT is “spreading content which favours Kremlin,” the watchdog said, adding that the ban was enforced on the advice of Foreign Affairs Ministry.

A Russian embassy spokesman denied that Kiselev controls RT.

“We see this unfriendly decision by Lithuanian authorities as one more step in its fight against the alternative opinion and freedom of media,” he told local BNS wire.

Lithuania stripped Kiselev of a state decoration in 2014, awarded for his role during Soviet Army assault in Vilnius in January 1991 which killed 14 civilians.