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Russian journalists’ union blasts Twitter move on RT, Sputnik as crackdown on free speech

October 27, 1:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"This sudden and unfair move against Russian media testifies to an interference of American authorities in the work of private business," Union’s Secretary Leonid Levin said

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© Zurab Dzhavakhadze/TASS

MOSCOW, October 26. /TASS/. The Russian Union of Journalists has blasted the decision by Twitter to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today television and the Sputnik news agency as a crackdown on free speech.

"The behavior of American Internet companies is a spectacular example of infusing American domestic political agenda into economy and international relations," Union’s Secretary Leonid Levin said. "Selective restrictions on users of social media on political grounds (all the more when these are journalists) - means evident curbs on free speech," said Levin, the chairman of the State Duma committee for information policy, information technologies and communications. The statement was posted on the website of the Russian Union of Journalists on Thursday.

Levin said Russia has always had "a normal working dialogue" with Twitter. "This sudden and unfair move against Russian media testifies to an interference of American authorities in the work of private business," Levin went on.

"Twitter has made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, effective immediately," Twitter’s statement said earlier on Thursday.

Twitter explains this decision is based on what it describes as "retrospective work" it has been doing "around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community’s claims" that "both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government."

"We did not come to this decision lightly, and are taking this step now as part of our ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter," the company argued.

Early this year, the U.S. intelligence community named the RT and Sputnik as "implementing state-sponsored Russian efforts to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 presidential election." This decision does not apply to any other advertisers. RT (a Russian English-language television channel broadcasting around the world) and the news agency Sputnik may remain "organic users on our platform," in accordance with the Twitter rules, the statement said.

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