Russia says it will retaliate after state broadcaster accounts frozen in France

AFP - LIONEL BONAVENTURE

Moscow will retaliate against French media in Russia after the bank accounts of RT France, the French arm of its state broadcaster, were frozen, Russian news agencies reported Saturday. Hours later, RT France's director announced the closure of the channel.

"After five years of harassment, the authorities in power have achieved their goal: the closure of RT France," Xenia Fedorova said in a Twitter statement on Saturday.

She said 123 employees were at risk of not being paid for January and could lose their jobs because of the account freeze -- part of the latest European Union sanctions against Russia.

Moscow had already warned of retaliation for the move by the French finance ministry, first reported by the unions of RT France (previously known as Russia Today) on Friday.

"The blocking of RT France accounts will lead to retaliatory measures against the French media in Russia," the TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies quoted an anonymous foreign ministry source as saying.

The measures "will be remembered", the source said, accusing Paris of "terrorising Russian journalists."

The French finance ministry told French news agency AFP that the assets of the chain had been frozen in compliance with the most recent EU sanctions, and not on Paris's initiative.

Unlike the initial sanctions decided after Moscow launched its Ukraine offensive, fresh EU measures adopted in December provided for an "asset freeze" of targeted entities, the same ministry source said.

Most Western media outlets are off-air in Russia and have seen their websites banned.

(with AFP)


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