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Freeze of RT bank accounts violates international law — Russian embassy in London

October 18, 2016, 16:08 UTC+3 LONDON

Earlier on Tuesday it was reported that the Royal Bank of Scotland Group had dropped the idea of closing the RT’s bank accounts in Britain

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© Zurab Javakhadze/ITAR-TASS

LONDON, October 18. /TASS/. Hindrances to the operation of Russian mass media in Britain are a violation of the international law, the Russian embassy in London said in a commentary in response to the NatWest bank’s decision to close all accounts of the Russian television news channel RT. NatWest is an affiliate of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

"We are deeply worried over the statement by the British government-controlled NatWest bank about its intention to close the accounts of the RT news channel. Creation of unbearable conditions for Russian mass media and prevention of their normal functioning is a violation of Britain’s OSCE commitments," the embassy said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday The Times said the Royal Bank of Scotland Group had dropped the idea of closing the RT’s bank accounts in Britain.

"The state-owned bank withdrew its planned punitive action after Moscow claimed it would freeze the BBC’s finances in Russia and report Britain to international watchdogs for breaching commitments to freedom of speech," the Times said.

On Monday, the Russian broadcaster’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan tweeted that the RT’s bank accounts in Britain had been frozen. 

The message from the NatWest bank (an affiliate of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group) said without explaining the reason that cooperation with the TV channel was coming to an end and the accounts would be closed down in two months’ time. A source in the UK Ministry of Finance told TASS the freeze of the accounts was the bank’s own decision and not new sanctions against Russia. Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said the issue was "a matter for the bank."

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