Russia blocks EU broadcasters in retaliation for EU media bans

The new cold war

Published 26 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Cilla Benkö is very critical of SR being blocked in Russia.

In May, Brussels decided to block four more Russian media outlets, claiming they support “Russia’s propaganda and war of aggression against Ukraine”.

Russia has now responded by blocking Sweden’s state broadcasters SVT and Swedish Radio (SR) – something that SR CEO Cilla Benkö says is “deeply worrying”.

There is an ongoing “censorship war” between the EU and Russia, in which a very large number of media channels have been banned, censored or blocked on “both sides” – usually with the EU first blocking Russian media channels and the Russian authorities then quickly “countering” by banning European or American media.

Most recently, in May, the EU Council decided to ban four more media outlets – namely Ria Vostsi, Izvestia, Rossiyskaya Gazeta and the Dutch Voice of Europe – on the grounds that they were under the “permanent direct or indirect control” of the Russian state and had allegedly played a central role in mobilizing support for the Russian side during the ongoing war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by blocking 81 media outlets from a total of 25 countries – including Sweden’s SVT and SR, France’s Le Monde, Spain’s El Pais and Germany’s Der Spiegel.

“Not particularly surprising”

SVT’s CEO Hanna Stjärne described the news as “alarming” and SR’s CEO Cilla Benkö called the announcement “deeply worrying”.

– Today’s announcement is deeply worrying, but unfortunately not particularly surprising, as Russia continues to tighten its grip on free journalism and becomes increasingly isolated from the outside world.

– Swedish Radio has already been affected by Russian media censorship by blocking our content. Unfortunately, the Russian decision means that it will be even more difficult to do free and independent journalism about developments in Russia, she said in a statement to the trade magazine Journalisten.

On social media and forums, critics point out that there seems to be a kind of strange and intellectually dishonest “doublethink” among the Western establishment, where censorship of Russian media is positive and necessary – because they spread “propaganda” – but at the same time it is very negative and a “threat to democracy” when Russia counters and imposes the same kind of censorship on Western news channels.

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