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GERMANY AND RUSSIA

Germany blocks German-language Russian channel

The German broadcasting regulator said Wednesday it had banned the transmission of the German-language channel of Russian state broadcaster RT, amid rising tensions between Moscow and the West.

Germany blocks German-language Russian channel
A sign for the Russian foreign broadcaster RT DE hangs in front of an office building in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

The transmission of the channel “RT DE” was “prohibited because it does not have the necessary broadcasting licence”, the regulator’s authorisation and oversight commission said in a statement.

“This is complete nonsense,” RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter, adding that the channel “will not stop broadcasting”.

RT DE was blocked from Europe’s satellite network on December 22 at the request of German authorities, less than a week after going on air, but was still available over the internet and via a mobile app.

In its response to the suspension, RT DE said it was broadcast from Moscow and had a Serbian broadcasting licence, which it said gives it the right to broadcast in Germany under European law.

“We cannot understand why a supposedly informed and independent regulator should act on what appears to be a purely political basis, based on a false version of reality that serves its own purpose,” it said.

But the German regulator said the channel was based in Berlin did not have a “legitimate permit under European law”.

RT DE said it would seek to appeal in court against the regulator’s decision.

Vladimir Soloviev, president of the Russian journalists’ union, told the Russian TASS news agency Germany was seeking to “ban an alternative point of view” and violating “principles of freedom of expression”.

Tensions

The decision comes at a moment of rising tensions between Moscow and the West over the massing of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in January said he was “concerned” about the RT DE situation and that the government would take steps in response “if needed”.

Launched in 2005 as “Russia Today”, state-funded RT has expanded with broadcasters and websites in languages including English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

It has been accused by Western countries of distributing disinformation and Kremlin-friendly propaganda.

It has generated controversy in many countries, including the United States, where it was required to register as a “foreign agent”, and in Britain, where authorities have threatened to revoke its broadcasting licence.

The channel has been banned in several countries, including the ex-Soviet republics of Lithuania and Latvia.

In September, Google-owned YouTube issued a warning to RT DE for violating its coronavirus disinformation guidelines and then shuttered two channels for breaching user terms.

A third channel was blocked in December for trying to circumvent the earlier terminations.

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GERMANY AND RUSSIA

Russian gas transit halt in Ukraine hits key pipeline’s inflow in Germany

A halt on Russian gas flowing through a key transit hub in eastern Ukraine has cut inflows via a key pipeline into Germany by a quarter compared to a day ago, official data showed Wednesday.

Russian gas transit halt in Ukraine hits key pipeline's inflow in Germany

The German government in Berlin however said that overall supplies to Germany were assured, as the affected “volumes are currently being offset by higher flows from Norway and the Netherlands”.

The affected pipeline travels through the Czech Republic and Slovakia and enters Germany via Waidhaus in Bavaria.

Germany is highly dependent on Russia for its gas supplies, with Russian supplies making up 55 percent of its imports before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Berlin has been battling to cut its reliance since, but has rejected an immediate full embargo on Russian gas.

In its daily energy situation report, it said the current level of its gas stocks was “significantly higher than in the spring of 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2021”.

READ ALSO: What would happen if Germany stopped accepting Russian gas

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