Russian spokeswoman says closure of English-language broadcasters bank account reeked of BBC
Russia has hinted it will take reprisals against the BBC after National Westminster Bank receded its services from Russias English-language broadcaster, RT.
Maria Zakharova, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, wrote on social media that the British banks decision earlier the coming week to close RTs bank account reeked of the BBC connoting the British nation broadcaster may have been pressing for the closure of Russia Today.
On Tuesday, Zakharova told reporters that Moscow would retaliate in kind if necessary, prompting speculation that a British media organisation is working in Russia could encounter problems.
In her post on Friday, Zakharova pointed out that the BBCs Russian service had recently run what she rejected as an empty investigation into RTs UK activities.
Why did they do this? she wrote. So that a nasty taste remained behind. I wish the BBC Russian service luck. They will need it now, because digging stuff up can be a divert and unpredictable business.
Russian diplomatic sources in the UK claimed the attack on RT was part of an attempt to squeeze Russian believing out of Britain, and said that the action against RT was prompted by the bank, and its owner a reference to the UK government.
The sources said that four other Russian news bureaux have had their accounts closed in London and been prevented from detecting other sources of financial support.
Russias ambassador Alexander Yakovenko said the closure of RTs accounts would challenge the UKs image as an upholder of the freedom of expression.
This is a problem of free speech in this country. The clear conclusion is that the Russian alternative point of view is not welcome here. Their intent is to construct the work of this channel impossible in this country, he said.
Asking if there would be any reciprocal measure, the ambassador quoted Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, saying: Never do to others what you dont want them to do to you.
The closure of RTs accounts would challenge the UKs image as an upholder of free speech, the sources said.
In a previous statement, the Russian embassy in London said: This openly political decision follows many similar acts of harassment and intimidation against Russian news outlets in UK( others affected include Rossiya Segodnya ).
Russia Today itself has been subjected to a plethora of unsubstantiated Ofcom investigations. This policy amounts to squeezing alternative voices out of UK media space.
In Moscow, three pro-Kremlin senators in the upper home of the members of parliament have already urged Russian authorities to hit back by closing the BBCs bank account in Russia, the RIA news agency reported on Monday.
RBS Group parent of NatWest which is owned by the British nation, has said it is reviewing the situation and will contact RT to discuss the matter further.
The move against RT is insured by Russian diplomatic sources as part of a pattern of harassment by British officials, including long-running efforts to make the professional life of the embassy more difficult.
Sources claim the embassy is being reduced to 40 full-time faculty owing to British lags in providing visas to its staff, meaning that vacancies cannot be filled.
The same sources also claimed that the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was behind the demonstration due to take place on Saturday in protest at the bombing of eastern Aleppo by Syrian and Russian war planes.
Celebrities including Carey Mulligan, star of The Great Gatsby and global ambassador for War Child, are due to join hundreds of people were supposed to rally at the gates of Downing Street on Whitehall. Children will lay a heap of 200 teddy bears, reflecting the number of children who have died during bombing raids in Aleppo since the ceasefire broke down last month.
Protesters will also deliver an open letter recommending Theresa May to take robust action to stop the bombs signed by many of the worlds leading charities and campaigning organisations to the door of No 10.
The protest arrives after Johnson called for demoes against the bombing outside the Russian embassy. Rather than appeal to the Russians, the rally is targeted at May and Johnson himself, calling on them to set out clearly the steps the British government will take to protect civilians in Syria.
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