The European Commission (EC) said Monday that the Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik platforms are not “media” but part of “Russia’s war machine,” justifying the veto of their broadcasts on EU territory.
“They propagate the Kremlin’s vision, basically. And in that context, we are not taking measures against media, but against propaganda channels, that’s the difference,” EC chief spokesman Eric Mamer told a press conference.
The Commission proposed on Sunday to ban these platforms from operating in the European space, as part of the EU sanctions against Moscow.
Brussels considers RT and Sputnik “part of the war machine, propaganda tools for Russia, and therefore within the reach of sanctions.”
“They promote visions in this conflict that are absolutely controlled by the Russian state apparatus and therefore do not represent at all any kind of media that tries to provide balanced coverage,” it added.
Mamer assured that the EC values “freedom of the press very highly” and “that is why these measures are not taken lightly and only in very exceptional circumstances such as a war of aggression against a sovereign country,” he added.
The legal argument behind this approach, he explained, is that these platforms “do not comply with the basic principles of freedom of information and press freedom.”
In broader terms on press freedom, the EC chief spokesman said Russia is “way, way, way” ahead of the European Union (EU) in terms of limiting access to information.
“Russian citizens find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to access any kind of free and objective press and in particular European or international media,” added the spokesman, who considered that it would be positive if “Russia started to inform its own citizens” about the Russian invasion.