Kremlin-affiliated news outlet Russia Today (RT) shut down its German language broadcasting operations on Friday, February 4th, due to the impact of the latest round of EU sanctions, Deutsche Welle reports.
The network, which was already operating at reduced capacity since March 2022, had been in a year-long regulatory dispute with German broadcasting authorities over the validity of its broadcasting licence amid an EU-wide crackdown on the network.
In a statement posted on its website, RT Germany lamented its decision to cease operations and condemned the EU for hypocrisy regarding media freedom and the targeting of non-Western press:
By allowing sanctions against media freedom, the EU has shown that the very values that supposedly form the core of its existence are completely unfounded. Freedom of the press no longer exists in Germany.
The station clarified, however, that it would continue to publish news content on its German-language website, which has been operational since 2014. Under the terms of new sanctions, pro-Russian outlets are still able to conduct interviews and research but are barred from conducting financial transactions.
The channel, which had been broadcasting in Germany since December 2021 via broadcast satellite, had until now been avoiding a previous ban by obtaining a broadcasting licence in Serbia. The past year has seen the website ‘deplatformed’ on social media and blocked in many European jurisdictions.
The network was included in the ninth round of EU sanctions in December, which targeted RT alongside four other outlets for their links with Moscow. RT Russia CEO Dinara Toktosunova wrote on Telegram that the financial restrictions made the daily work of the site impossible.
In March 2022, the EU Commission listed RT specifically, along with fellow Russian news site Sputnik, to be sanctioned for its role in disseminating Russian misinformation, with the station already losing a court case to have an EU-wide ban overturned. Last month the French wing of RT was similarly forced to shut down following the freezing of its financial accounts by the French government.
The Russian government has responded to previous attempts at banning RT in Germany with its own ban on Deutsche Welle in retaliation. RT Germany has previously earned criticism for platforming figures on the German extreme right a 2019 report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution named it as the leading source of Russian influence in Germany.
RT’s Youtube channel was taken down in September 2021 for alleged misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic; its Twitter accounts were removed on February 6th, according to media reports.