The UK bank accounts of state-run multilingual broadcaster Russia Today have been frozen, according to its editor-in-chief- Margarita Simonyan.
She took to Twitter to announce the news on Monday saying: “They’ve closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. ‘The decision is not subject to review.’ Praise be to the freedom of speech!”
RT says that its bank NatWest, which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, gave no explanation for its decision. In a letter written to the Kremlin-run news channel, the bank said: “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities. You will therefore need to make alternative banking arrangements outside of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.”
The letter said all of RT’s accounts would be cancelled on December 12. It said it reached the decision “after careful consideration” and that the “decision is final and we are not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it.”
RT has previously been sanctioned by regulatory body Ofcom for biased reporting, including claims that the BBC staged a chemical weapons attack for a news report on Syria. BBC won the case against the channel and Ofcom ruled that elements of the program were “materially misleading.”
After the UK account closures, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook: “It looks like, as it leaves the EU, London has decided to leave behind all its obligations towards freedom of speech. As they say, best to start a new life without bad habits.”
RT began broadcasting in the UK around 10 years ago and since then, Ofcom has recorded that the channel has breached UK broadcasting rules 14 times.
It is unclear whether the UK government was behind the news.