In these times of war in Ukraine, where the European Union has clearly taken sides against the Russian aggressor, these media, financed by the Kremlin, are considered as powerful relays of propaganda.
It’s been nearly a week since the invasion of Ukraine was launched, and the Twenty-Seven have decided to strike in a different way. After the establishment of economic sanctions and the purchase of arms in favor of Ukraine, the European Union acted on Sunday February 27 to ban the Russian state media Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, like the announced European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
All broadcast channels are concerned. The legislative text recording this decision will be published on Wednesday March 2, the date on which the measure will come into force. An “unprecedented” decision for European Commissioner Thierry Breton. Questioned by our colleagues from Figaro, he explains this choice: “There is no place for Russian war propaganda in our European information space”.
Propaganda media therefore for the Union, which considers that the financing of the RT channel and its digital version Sputnik by the Kremlin, to the tune of 430 million euros, poses serious problems of independence.
Earlier on Sunday, still under pressure from the EU, many platforms such as TikTok, Youtube and Facebook had chosen to block RT and Sputnik accounts.
On Monday, the Secretary of State for the Digital Transition Cédric O asked the French representatives of Google (Google and YouTube), Twitter, TikTok, Snap, Microsoft, Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and Qwant to “suspend the accounts without delay”. of RT and Sputnik on their platform. A strong act, given that the Youtube channel of RT France, for example, had more than a million subscribers.
The Brussels “sanctions regime”
To legally justify its ban, Brussels has chosen to go through the “sanctions regime”. Based on a European Council regulation adopted in 2014, the EU bases its decision on “shortcomings found” by RT.
Our colleagues specify that Thierry Breton is “in close contact with national regulators” to ensure the “rapid” implementation of these measures. For this decision to be effective, Arcom will have to terminate the television channel’s agreement, probably via a referral to the Council of State so that it be ordered in summary proceedings to stop broadcasting the channel. .
The question will then arise of the 176 employees of the channel in France (including 100 journalists), while two emblematic journalists of the channel have already chosen to leave the antenna, namely Frédéric Taddeï and Stéphanie de Muru.
The Russian regime could for example choose to expel French correspondents, or to close the French channels present on their territory such as France 24, RFI or Euronews.