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Moscow blasts Lithuania for Russian TV station ban

April 9, 2015

Moscow on Thursday blasted Lithuania for banning a Russian-language TV channel after it was accused of spreading propaganda about events in Ukraine.

Russia’s foreign ministry lashed out at the “politically motivated decision” by the Baltic state’s media watchdog to suspend broadcasts of RTR Planeta channel in the country for three months.

“An extremely dangerous situation has developed in Lithuania with repressive methods used to pressure the mass media and persecute journalists,” the ministry said in a statement.

“There is effectively full-scale political censorship in the country that is incompatible with the democratic norms for any state.”

A spokeswoman for Lithuania’s media watchdog told AFP Wednesday that the channel was being closed for “inciting discord, warmongering (and) spreading biased information”.

The channel is registered in Sweden but its producers are a Russia-owned media company, VGTRK, she said.

Lithuania, which is both a NATO and EU member, is a vocal supporter of Ukraine.

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its meddling in eastern Ukraine have triggered concern in Baltic states which emerged from nearly five decades of Soviet occupation in the early 1990s.

Ethnic Russians make up only six percent of Lithuania’s population, compared with a quarter in Estonia and Latvia, but Vilnius has led the way in denouncing what it describes as disinformation campaigns by Moscow.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.