Criticism of broadcast ban for Deutsche Welle

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The foreign office of “Deutsche Welle” in Moscow has to close. © Marius Becker/dpa

It is likely to further strain the already ailing German-Russian relations: the fact that Russia has banned Deutsche Welle is condemned by politicians and media professionals in this country.

Moscow/Berlin – In Germany, the broadcasting ban on Deutsche Welle in Russia has met with sharp criticism from politicians and the media.

The Federal Foreign Office sees the move as “a renewed burden on German-Russian relations,” as a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said. Reporters Without Borders called Russia’s announcement “extremely disproportionate”. Managing Director Christian Mihr said: “In a country where freedom of the press is already limited to an absolute minimum, this is a severe blow to freedom of information and the plurality of the media.” According to the Moscow office manager of Deutsche Welle, the ban applies from today .

Deutsche Welle in Russia

Yesterday, Russia issued a broadcast ban on Deutsche Welle (DW), the foreign broadcaster of the Federal Republic of Germany. In addition, the Russian Foreign Ministry ordered the closure of the correspondent’s office in Moscow and the withdrawal of journalists’ accreditations. Moscow was reacting to a ban on broadcasting the German-language program of its state broadcaster RT DE due to a lack of a German license. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized the decision on RT DE as an “assault on freedom of speech”.

Deutsche Welle, which has had broadcasting licenses in Russia since 2005, announced legal action. DW Director General Peter Limbourg explained: “We are being played with in a way that the media only has to experience in autocracies.” The broadcaster spoke of an “absurd reaction”. “Until the measures are officially sent to us, we will continue to report from our office in Moscow.”

The Moscow DW office manager Yuri Rescheto said in an interview with his broadcaster: “We have been told in no uncertain terms by the Russian Foreign Ministry that we will no longer be allowed to work as journalists from tomorrow (Friday) at 9:00 a.m. Moscow time.” The accreditation cards would then have to be issued be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The announced measures lacked any basis, according to the spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office. Should they actually be implemented, this would severely limit free reporting by independent journalists in Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry spoke only of a “first stage”. dpa

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