PARIS — The French branch of Kremlin-backed TV channel RT will shut down after the French government froze its bank accounts, RT France president and news director Xenia Fedorova announced Saturday.
“After five years of relentless efforts, the authorities in power have reached their goal: the closing of RT France,” she tweeted, slamming what she called “censorship.”
In March last year, RT and fellow Russian outlet Sputnik were banned in the EU to crack down on Russian disinformation amid sanctions linked to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. But RT France continued to produce content out of its bureau in the western Paris area, which was broadcasted in African francophone countries. The channel was also still available online.
RT France’s parent company and main shareholder were included in the ninth round of EU sanctions against Russia, which was adopted in December. After that, the French state froze the organization’s finances.
“The General Directorate of the Treasury has decided to freeze RT France’s bank accounts, making it impossible to continue our activity,” Fedorova said. She added that about 123 employees, including 77 journalists, likely won’t be paid in January and will lose their jobs.
Moscow on Saturday pledged to fight back.
“Blocking RT France’s account will lead to retaliatory measures against French media in Russia. They will be very noticeable, if the French authorities do not stop intimidating Russian journalists,” the Russian foreign ministry told Russia’s news agency Tass.