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Russia blocks access to Western news organizations over 'fake' news on Ukraine war

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A pedestrian walks past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House in central London. (Reuters file photo)

Russia has restricted access to the websites of several foreign news organizations, after the European Union (EU) and Britain blocked Russian media outlets in an unprecedented move over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia restricted access to BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Deutsche Welle, and other media outlets for spreading "fake" information, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.

"The grounds for restricting access to (these) resources was their deliberate and systematic circulation of (reports) containing false information," said Russia's communications watchdog Roskomnadzor.

It said the fake information was related to "the essence of the special military operation in Ukraine, its form, the methods of combat operations (attacks on the population, strikes on civilian infrastructure), the Russian armed forces' losses and civilian victims."

Russia launched a military offensive against Ukraine a week ago, citing concerns about NATO.

On Wednesday, the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik will be banned in the European Union "with immediate effect for systematic disinformation" over the war in Ukraine.

"Today, we are taking an important step against Putin's manipulation operation and turning off the tap for Russian state-controlled media in the EU," Borrell said.

Under the sanction, EU operators will be prohibited from broadcasting, facilitating, or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of any RT and Sputnik content.

South African satellite broadcaster Multichoice also cut RT news channel from its pan-African DStv service, saying that EU sanctions had forced the move. “Sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU have led to the global distributor ceasing to provide the broadcast feed to all suppliers," Multichoice said on Thursday.

British Culture Minister Nadine Dorries also told parliament on Thursday that RT television channel had been taken off the air.

Dorries said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "must not be allowed to exploit our open and free media to spread poisonous propaganda into British homes." She said she had contacted social networks Meta and TikTok "asking them to do everything that they can do to prevent access to RT in the UK, as they've done in Europe."

Britain's broadcasting regulator Ofcom has not revoked the broadcaster's license, though. But access to the channel in the UK has been affected by the EU ban as satellite companies based in Europe provide the RT feed to UK providers.

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