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Latvia Bans Sputnik Website From Domestic Domain

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Latvian authorities warned the Sputnik news agency and radio of suspending its dissemination within the .lv domain.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Latvian authorities notified the Sputnik news agency of suspending its dissemination within the.lv domain zone found in purported violation of EU regulation and in a move disputed by the agency's editor-in-chief as a violation of press freedom.

Sputnik Latvia was launched on February 12 with the objective of providing alternative news coverage under the "Telling the Untold" motto.

"According to the domain name registrar’s official letter citing a Latvian Foreign Ministry request, ‘registering the sputniknews.lv domain name violates the EU Council Regulation concerning restrictive measures in respect to the threat to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence’," the Sputnik press service said.

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The letter adds that violating Council Regulation No. 269/2014 can serve as grounds for criminal liability under the Latvian criminal code, the press service continued.

"Sputnik in Latvian did not violate any clause of current Latvian and EU legislation. Shutting down the resource in the.lv domain zone speaks to direct censorship by Latvian authorities. Therefore Latvian authorities directly violate the media’s right to information gathering and dissemination," Sputnik Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said in a statement.

Latvia is the latest among Baltic nations to ban the work of or deport journalists based in Russia.

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In August 2015, Latvia refused to register an office of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency in the country, claiming that the outlet’s editorial policy does not correspond to the Latvian Constitution and the state’s official policies. Senior Russian leaders criticized Riga’s decision to refuse the registration of the Rossiya Segodnya's news bureau and called it politicized and discriminatory.

Sputnik is a news agency and radio network with multimedia news hubs in dozens of countries. Sputnik broadcasts through its websites, analog and digital radio, mobile apps and social media. Sputnik newswires run around the clock in English, Arabic, Spanish and Chinese.

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