European Council bans Russia-associated media outlets for spreading disinformation

Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0 Author: Jürg Vollmer / Reusse
A photo from 2009 shows the news of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti in Moscow.

The Council has decided to suspend the broadcasting activities of four additional media outlets known to be under the direct or indirect control of the Russian leadership and engaged in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine support. These media outlets, namely Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestia, and Rossiyskaya Gazeta are responsible for spreading disinformation, boosting Russian propaganda and attempting to destabilise EU member states and EU’s neighbouring countries. and their war of aggression against Ukraine. 

However, the measures agreed upon do not restrict freedom of opinion. They include specific safeguards for freedom of expression and journalistic activities and do not prevent these media outlets and their staff from carrying out other activities in the EU, such as research and interviews. 

The European Council has reaffirmed its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and has proposed a comprehensive strategy to weaken Russia’s ability to continue its aggression. This strategy includes strengthening sanctions, enhancing cybersecurity measures, and promoting media literacy to counter disinformation. The European Commission has welcomed the Council’s decision.

The Council asserts that Russia has engaged in systematic media and information manipulation, interference, and severe distortion of facts. This campaign aims to justify and support its full-scale aggression against Ukraine, as well as to further its strategy of destabilising neighbouring countries, the EU, and its member states. The propaganda, information manipulation, and interference activities have consistently targeted the Ukrainian state and its authorities, Ukrainian citizens, European political parties (especially during election periods), civil society, asylum seekers, Russian ethnic minorities, gender minorities, and the functioning of democratic institutions in the EU and its member states.

Ahead of the June European elections, Russia’s attempts intensified, providing its support to pro-Kremlin political parties that aim at destabilising the EU democracies.

The Russian propaganda machine particularly supports far-right parties known for their commitments to Moscow and for promoting their country’s exit from the EU. Their interference in national elections—as in Bulgaria, Austria, Belgium, and Romania—as well as in state elections in Germany or regional issues, as in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North Macedonia, aims only at weakening Western democracies, the EU, and NATO.   

The Commission welcomes the Council’s decision

The Commission welcomed the Council’s decision. In a press release issued today, the Commission recognises that this action was caused by these outlets’ role in supporting and justifying Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. 

“Russia has engaged in continuous and concerted propaganda as well as information manipulation actions targeted at civil society in the EU and neighbouring countries, gravely distorting and manipulating facts. These propaganda actions have been channelled through a number of media outlets under the permanent direct or indirect control of the leadership of the Russian Federation. Such actions constitute a significant and direct threat to the Union’s public order and security. 

“The risk to our democratic societies – and the integrity of the upcoming European as well as national elections – has intensified,” emphasised the Commission’s press release. 

“Today’s measures are a forceful response to that”.   

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