Extract from the Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT television channel, Moscow

Question: As you know, RT has launched its German broadcasting service, but in less than a week the Eutelsat 9 satellite “removed” our channel, under pressure from a German regulator. They are threatening to take us to court and close us. YouTube, in turn, where we also offered our stream, deleted our channel on its launch day. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of these developments, and to what extent? Do you intend to undertake anything specifically to support our network and journalists?

Sergey Lavrov: Make no mistake, we are aware of these developments. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has commented on this matter many times. We are keeping a close eye on the environment in which Russian journalists work abroad, since discrimination against them has been all too common. RT and Sputnik have yet to be accredited by the Elysee Palace. Just a few days ago, President Vladimir Putin talked to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, on the phone, and during the conversation he pointed out this fact, expressing hope that our French colleagues would do everything to enable the Russian media, including RT, to operate in France in the same journalist-friendly environment as the French journalists enjoy in Russia.

We would like the same principle to apply to RT in Germany and to any other Russian media outlet facing discrimination abroad. I believe that what happened in Germany was outrageous. From the outset, the German authorities went to great lengths to generate negative publicity about the channel, targetting the general public, as well as officials, even though some officials did try to distance themselves from what the German “regulator” was doing. It all started with attempts to block banking services, after which they refused to register the channel and prevented Luxembourg from doing so. Our colleagues in Serbia have been able to register the German-language RT channel as per the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, to which Germany is a party and must abide by its provisions.

By all accounts, they will now try to shift the blame to social networks like YouTube, pretending that it was their initiative and that they are guided by their own in-house “criteria,” while the German state has nothing to do with this. This is not the way things are. The German state must be involved, since Germany has undertaken to ensure freedom of information and assumed these commitments. It is not YouTube who is to blame but the state on whose territory arbitrary actions of this kind take place.

We have been witnessing discrimination against the Russian media for many years now. Quite often, we have been tempted to respond in kind, in a tit-for-tat manner. However, until recently there was a prevailing belief that we did not want to go along the same path of “strangling” the press and the media, following in the footsteps of our Western partners. That said, just as with efforts to ensure Russia’s security, this patience has its limits. I cannot rule out that this unacceptable situation will persist, leaving us with no other choice but to respond.

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