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Russia Today bank accounts 'frozen in UK'

Published 17/10/2016

NatWest said it is closing Russia Today's UK accounts from December 12
NatWest said it is closing Russia Today's UK accounts from December 12

Russia Today's bank accounts have been frozen in the UK.

The network's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, tweeted the news: "Our accounts in the UK have been closed. All accounts. 'The decision is not subject to revision'.

She added: "Long live freedom of speech!"

A statement on the broadcaster's website said NatWest informed RT UK "it will no longer have the broadcaster among its clients".

In a letter to RT's London Office, NatWest 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."

The bank also said the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which NatWest is a part of, would refuse to serve Russia Today.

“We have no idea why it happened, because neither yesterday nor the day before yesterday, nor a month ago, nothing special happened to us, nobody threatened us in any way," Margarita Simonyan told the RBK business news website.

"Hypothetically, this may have something to do with new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon. It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now."

In a post on Facebook, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Britain on its way out of the EU abandoned all its commitments to protect the freedom of speech.”

She gave no information on why the accounts have been frozen.

A spokeswoman for Russia Today said: "RT has received a letter from Natwest, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which has a significant shareholding by the UK Government, informing it that its UK banking facilities with the bank will be withdrawn without explanation or redress.

"This decision is incomprehensible, and without warning.

"It is, however, not at odds with the countless measures that have been undertaken in the UK and Europe over the last few years to ostracize, shout down, or downright impede the work of RT."

She added: "RT UK will continue its operations uninterrupted."

Publisher Marcus Papadopoulos told RT: "I sincerely hope that there’s no political motive for this, because we know that the British government isn’t happy with RT in Britain.

"RT has a lot of viewers in Britain. Many British people now tune in to RT to receive information on major topics around the world, including in Britain. And many British people believe that the alternative accounts that RT puts forward and covers are more truthful than what they’re hearing from, for example, Sky News.

"If no bank in Britain would allow RT to be a customer, then that could spell the end of RT broadcasting in Britain, which would be a catastrophic event for freedom of speech in Britain," he added.

RT recently accused British tabloids of manufacturing a panic about World War Three.

"An unconfirmed report in a regional news site appears to be enough for British tabloids to remind readers how ‘Big Bad Vlad’ secretly wants to nuke them," the broadcaster said.

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