MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. Paris and Brussels are banning Russian media outlets for fear that audiences will see an alternative point of view concerning global and Ukrainian events and draw their own conclusions, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
"In fact, Europeans are being deprived of their right to free access to information. It seems that Paris and Brussels are afraid that the audience, having seen a different point of view and world picture, which does not correspond to the Western media mainstream, will draw their own conclusions about what is happening in the world and in Ukraine in particular," the diplomat said in a commentary distributed by the Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with the ban on the broadcasting of a number of Russian TV channels introduced both in France and throughout the EU.
Zakharova pointed out that Brussels was conducting a systematic, gradual "cleansing" of the EU information space from any presence of alternative media. "Brussels did not hesitate to censor and ban Russian news agencies. Decisions to prohibit the broadcasting of various Russian information resources at the EU level were made on March 1, June 3, and December 16. They were followed by a Jesuitical, deceitful remark that the introduction of such restrictive measures ‘does not prevent them and their staff from engaging in activities in the EU outside of broadcasting, including investigative journalism (research) or interviews’," she added.
Zakharova noted that the EU had labeled Russian journalists as "propagandists," which couldn't help but affect their ability to work effectively. "Of course, the crackdown on Russian media unleashed by the EU is not limited to the ban on broadcasting. Brussels has hung a toxic label of ‘propagandists’ on Russian journalists, thus significantly limiting their ability to work effectively," the commentary reads.
According to the diplomat, the crackdown on Russian media in the EU is a gross violation of the principles of freedom of speech and is clearly discriminatory.
"The exclusion of Russian TV channels from the media space proves that the Western ‘model’ doctrine of democratization is in fact nothing but a tool for achieving foreign policy goals," Zakharova said.
France: Main lobbyist
The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman stressed that Moscow was indignant about the steps taken by Paris to impose new bans on Russian media broadcasts on its territory as well as in the entire EU.
Zakharova recalled that Eutelsat, Europe's largest satellite operator (22% of which is owned by France), had stopped rebroadcasting three TV channels - Channel One, Russia 1, and NTV - throughout the EU under significant pressure from the government, which had engaged human rights organizations to contribute to the cause.
"As it happened earlier in the summer, the French ran ahead of the locomotive and limited broadcasts of a new batch of Russian channels a few days before the ninth package of EU sanctions came into force, which imposed a similar ban," she pointed out.
The diplomat noted that such actions suggest that, given the weight and influence of France in the EU, it was Paris that was "the main lobbyist for stopping the broadcasting of Russian TV channels in Europe".