RT France, the French arm of the Russian state broadcaster, will shut down after its French bank accounts were frozen over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the channel’s director said Saturday.
“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.
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 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, accusing Paris of “terrorizing Russian journalists.”
The French finance ministry told AFP that the assets of the chain had been frozen in compliance with the most recent EU sanctions, and not on Paris’s initiative.
A broadcast ban for Russian media was introduced by the European Union shortly after the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022, and an appeal by RT France was thrown out by the European Court of Justice last July.
France was the only member state in the bloc to have a registered RT subsidiary, which has continued to produce and distribute programs that are available via VPN internet access.
Launched in 2005 as “Russia Today”, state-funded RT has expanded with channels and websites in languages including English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
It has been accused by Western countries of distributing disinformation and Kremlin-friendly propaganda.