Confrontation between Baerbock and Lavrov: Dispute over Moscow’s state television station

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At the press conference with Federal Foreign Minister Baerbock, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov threatened countermeasures because of the broadcast stop for RT Deutsch. © Uncredited/Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP/dpa

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov have confronted each other over Moscow’s state television station RT DE.

MOSCOW – Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have confronted each other over Moscow’s state television station RT DE. Lavrov asked the federal government on Tuesday to allow the broadcaster to work unhindered in Germany. On the other hand, Baerbock said that there is no state broadcasting in Germany. RT DE demands a TV station license for a full German program. In the US, France and other countries, RT.

Lavrov warned his German colleague that obstructing RT would have consequences. The Russian Foreign Ministry had repeatedly threatened that a ban on broadcasting would affect the work of German media in Russia. Details were not given.

Baerbock also dismissed complaints from an RT representative that the channel’s employees in Germany were being hindered or discriminated against in their work. “It is not the case that there is state interference,” she said, also with a view to a decision by the video platform YouTube to block RT DE because of the spread of false information.

The RT representative used the press conference to publicly complain that working in Germany was harder than in any other country. She called on Lavrov to support RT. The minister confirmed that this is already the case. Baerbock replied that RT staff had access to the federal press conference and also reported on demonstrations. There is always access to journalistic activity, said Baerbock. She emphasized that Germany is committed to freedom of the press.

In mid-December, RT launched its German-language live program RT DE via various distribution channels. The media regulators in Berlin then initiated proceedings against RT. As a result, the satellite operator Eutelsat stopped broadcasting RT DE shortly before Christmas. The background to the decision is that German regulators have not issued a broadcasting license for the broadcast. RT is repeatedly criticized in the West as a propaganda tool of the Kremlin. The main accusation: the broadcaster is spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation on behalf of the Russian state. RT denies that. (dpa)

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