Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov absolutely opposes the idea of slapping tit-for-tat measures on restricting media amid Facebook’s blocking of RT accounts, TASS reported.
RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan said earlier that Facebook had blocked a page related to one of the TV channel’s projects dubbed In the Now. The project and several of its affiliates have collected more than 2.5bln views. The pages could have been shut down at CNN’s request, which accused RT of concealing its links to the Kremlin. Facebook explained the blocking by the need for RT’s project to disclose data on their parent company.
"I think there is no doubt that this is another example of pressure against Russian media and the freedom of speech. This is regrettable," Lavrov said on Tuesday after talks with his Slovakian counterpart and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office Miroslav Lajcak.
"We discussed this situation and I drew attention of my counterpart to this during the talks. I gave other examples when RT and Sputnik were subjected to undisguised discrimination, and they are also barred from attending a whole number of official events in France," the Russian foreign minister said.
Speaking on whether retaliatory measures will be introduced, Lavrov said: "Frankly speaking, I’m a fierce opponent of tit-for-tat steps in the sphere of restricting media activity. The fact that we are still not doing this proves both our restraint and strength, we are an open society," Lavrov noted.
"We have Ukrainian journalists working here, these journalists are rather aggressively covering the events in Russia, in Russian-Ukrainian relations and in Russia’s ties with the West," he said.
Russia’s top diplomat cautioned agencies against a tit-for-tat response. "We should better focus on keeping convenient work conditions for foreign journalists in Russia, while fiercely defending the rights of our reporters abroad." He noted that respective institutions are obliged to ensure the freedom of journalists and their professional activity, as well as access to information, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Lavrov recalled that Russia has filed requests for OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir, who has started responding to some of them. "I hope there will be a reaction to the others, and not in written answers but in the form of certain steps, which he can and should take on those countries, where media freedom is violated," he said.