Persona Non Grata, explained | Lex Animata | Hesham Elrafei
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In two Baltic countries – Latvia and Lithuania – broadcasting of the Russian TV channel RT (formerly Russia Today) is prohibited. In Latvia, the decision was made on June 30, in Lithuania – on July 8. The reason for the blocking of RT is that Dmitry Kiselev, the general director of the Russian international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, which owns RT, is included in the sanctions lists of the European Union.
There is also a possibility that Estonia will follow the example of the two countries. This, in particular, was announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Urmas Reinsalu, who also added that in order to implement the ban on the broadcasting of the Russian TV channel, an analysis should be carried out, which should confirm that the restriction of broadcasting is the right step towards the implementation of financial sanctions..
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” asked experts from the Baltic countries to comment on the situation with the ban or possible ban on the broadcasting of the RT channel.
“If there is a desire to learn more about Latvia in Russian, then there are such opportunities.”
The National Council for Electronic Media (NEPLP) announced the termination of the broadcasting of seven TV channels of the RT media group in Latvia. The ban applies to channels RT, RT HD, RT Arabic, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD, RT Documentary and RT TV. The NEPLP report notes that in the programs of the banned channels, Latvia was repeatedly called “a failed state and was denied the right of subjectivity. In addition, a number of programs of the media group were aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine..
Chairman of the National Council Ivars Abolins said: “We will ask all EU regulators to follow our example and restrict RT broadcasting on their territory. There is no place for these programs either in Latvia or in the European Union “.
Journalist of the Latvian edition “Kas Jauns” (“What’s new”) Karlis Sergeants (Kārlis Seržants) called RT “an absolutely propaganda channel” that “supposedly deals with news, but has been caught on rigging facts many times”. As an example, Sergeants noted: “Let’s say RT talks about an event, but as an illustration it gives a video from other places and does not coincide in years.”.
According to the Latvian journalist, the materials of the RT channel extol everything that is Russian, from lifestyle to current politics, while the situation in other states is covered mainly in negative tones. And this applies not only to Latvia. “I remember how French President Emmanuel Macron spoke very negatively about this channel,” he added..
At the same time, Karlis Sergeants emphasizes that the ban on the broadcast of the RT media group, as well as the previously implemented similar measures against nine media outlets that are part of the holding of the oligarch Yuri Kovalchuk, close to Vladimir Putin, are not a clamp on freedom of the press..
“Both Mr. Kovalchuk and Mr. Kiselev are included in the lists of persons subject to sanctions. And this is the main official legal reason, “insists the interlocutor of the Russian service” Voice of America “.
When asked what Latvia can offer Russian-speaking residents of the country as an informational alternative, Karlis Sergeants recalled: “We have a channel on public radio that broadcasts the entire program in Russian – both news programs and entertainment. There are several commercial radio stations broadcasting exclusively in Russian. There is a public television channel with news and talk shows in Russian. We have quite a few Russian-language newspapers that are sometimes not very loyal. But they are not closed. So, if there is a desire to learn more about Latvia in Russian, then there are such opportunities, “- the journalist of the” Kas Jauns “edition concludes.
“The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission decided to stop the retransmission of five RT programs on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania,” said the chairman of the commission, Mantas Martisius, stressing that the decision was taken taking into account information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania..
As a result of this decision, five channels are banned: RT itself, its RT HD version, as well as RT Spanish, RT Documentary and RT Documentary HD. They were rebroadcast by cable and other television operators Balticum, Consilium Optimum and Penki kontinentai, as well as Internet television megogo.net.
“I am not a supporter of” carpet bombing “, but” aimed fire “”
Correspondent of the newspaper “Lietuvos Rytas” Vytautas Bruveris (Vytautas Bruveris) sees in this case two sides of the problem. “One is the formal argumentation and formal logic that the broadcasting commission had. The second side of the matter is the political and ideological components, “Bruveris said in a conversation with the Voice of America Russian Service..
The formal logic, in his opinion, is very simple – the RT channel belongs to the Rossiya Segodnya agency, and the head of the agency, Dmitry Kiselev, is under EU sanctions. This means that the sanctions should be extended to the media group led by Kiselev..
As for the political and ideological part of the case, according to Bruveris, it consists in the fact that the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission has long been looking for an excuse to exclude from the country’s media space the products of state and near-state Russian electronic media.
“This is the maximum program that the Lithuanian authorities are striving to implement. And to achieve this goal, they use all the reasons, because they cannot just take everything and ban it. Because we are members of the European Union and must comply with its laws.
This has been going on for the last five to six years, and the current closure of RT channels is a small but significant step in this direction, ”continued the correspondent of“ Lietuvos Rytas ”.
When asked to express his personal opinion on this event, Vytautas Bruveris again answered in two ways: “On the one hand, this is, of course, the Russian state propaganda, which is harmful to the mental and mental health of people. But I would not be a supporter of “carpet bombing”, but “point, aimed fire”.
If some programs violate the Lithuanian or European laws – on the subject of propaganda of racial hatred or war, then concrete decisions must be made. But I am not a supporter of prohibitions, the purpose of which is to completely block the entire broadcast. It is necessary to develop the immunity and health of the nation and society, and then no propaganda will be scary. And the methods, as I have already said – “carpet bombing”, sometimes even work for the benefit of Russian propaganda and the Russian state. Who, as in this case, accuse Lithuania of censorship and lack of tolerance. Of course, as the saying goes, “whose cow would moan,” and the gentlemen from the Kremlin would have been better off keeping quiet about this, but now there is just a bilateral political butting, and that’s all, ”the Lithuanian journalist shrugs..
At the end of his commentary, Vytautas Bruveris noted that in response, the Lithuanian state should offer its Lithuanian citizens not counter-propaganda, but a real comprehensive integration policy. “Unfortunately, we still do not have such a policy. And this is the root of the problem, and not in Russian propaganda, especially in the one that, as in this case, is in English, ”sums up the correspondent of“ Lietuvos Rytas ”.
“This gives the Russian authorities a reason to lie once again that we are against freedom of speech.”
Estonia is still looking closely at the experience of the other two Baltic countries, although at the end of last year the country’s authorities took some steps in relation to the agency “Sputnik Estonia”. In particular, the agency’s employees received an order from the leadership of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board to terminate labor relations with the parent organization, justifying this with the sanctions imposed by the European Union against a number of Russian individuals and legal entities, including against Dmitry Kiselev.
As a result, from January 1, the agency’s employees broke off labor relations with MIA Rossiya Segodnya, and the website Sputnik Estonia began work in the so-called “emergency mode”. The leadership of “Russia Today” began to bombard the UN, EU, OSCE, UNESCO and the European Parliament with appeals and complaints about the “infringement of freedom of speech” in the Republic of Estonia.
As for the prospects for RT in this country, the correspondent of the Russian Service turned to an Estonian political scientist for comments. Peeter Time (Peeter Taim).
“We have observed a strict sanctions approach to Russian propaganda channels in Lithuania and Latvia before. Estonia has always been separate in this regard, because our value of freedom of speech is very high..
Personally, I agree that RT channels are very hostile and belligerent. And by the way, I do not agree with the statement that these channels are propaganda. And I want to make this comparison: say, a husband comes home, and his wife notices that the collar of his shirt is stained with lipstick. And if he answers “no!” To his wife’s question whether he spent time with another woman, this does not mean that he is promoting extramarital affairs. He does not say that there is nothing wrong with that, that many men do this. He’s just lying.
And with regard to RT, if we heard from morning till night speculations about what a good country Russia is, and what a good permanent president Vladimir Putin is, that would be propaganda. And when we are constantly shoved with fakes – the last example, when we were shown round dances filmed three years ago in Yakutia and said that this is how people celebrate the adoption of amendments to the Russian constitution – this is just a lie..
And it seems to me very important to understand that those people who understand that something is wrong with the products of the Russian state media are not so much against propaganda as against lies. And therefore, despite the fact that we adhere to the principles and values of freedom of speech, it happens that you think – “why not really close (TV channels, like RT – AP)”. But, fortunately, our government also adheres to the principles of freedom of speech, ”says the Estonian expert.
In addition, given the development of technical means, blocking the broadcast of TV channels does not seem to be very effective for Peeter Taim. “Of course, I understand Latvia and Lithuania and those people who make such decisions, because the avalanche of this lies just goes off scale, and there is a desire to somehow reduce it. On the other hand, this gives the Russian authorities a reason to lie once again that we are against freedom of speech, “he adds..
According to Peeter Time, those Russian-speaking residents of Estonia who are accustomed to consuming the products of the state-owned Russian media and believe everything that is said there are unlikely to change their worldview after their closure. And to the clarifying question, what should the Estonian state do in this case, he answers: “To improve their living conditions, to show these people every day that we are a free country, that the change of government is better than irreplaceability, that freedom of speech, freedom of entrepreneurship and economic development better than none. And then these people, perhaps, will gradually begin to understand that the local democracy is better than the regime that is on the other side of the Narova River “.