This comes after Russian broadcaster RT received a warning that its license is being revised in the UK after allegations that Russia was involved in the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Sputnik discussed the developments with Dr. Roslyn Fuller, Director of the Solonian Democracy Institute based in Dublin and the author of the book Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose.
Sputnik: What can you say about this current situation with RT and Russian media under threat of losing broadcasting rights in the UK and as a result of a relatively unrelated matter?
Dr. Roslyn Fuller: It's something that has been going on for some time now in the UK and in the US where RT was made to register as a foreign agent earlier on, so it represents a further deterioration in relations between Russia and the West and I suppose an attempt to unify opinion within Europe and the US. Recently there've been some attempts to portray people commenting on RT and also other alternative sites in the US and in Europe as sowing dissent within society and kind of a stream that it should be prevented, so it is getting kind of McCarthyite in this region.
Sputnik: What do you think the consequences of this escalation will be as far as the continuation of the British-Russian media war?
Dr. Roslyn Fuller: Russia will probably prevent British reporters and journalists from working in Russia and of course even though neither side will be able to completely prevent people from accessing information from other regions, I think it will have a chilling effect on people accessing that information. I come from an international background and obviously one thing that we always try to promote is people from different cultures to exchange views with each other and to know what people in other cultures and other countries are thinking, we can come to negotiations and understand each other better and that's something that is going to undergo a serious chilling effect if we get to the point where people are turfing out each other's journalists and preventing reporting from other countries from being broadcast in the home country.
Sputnik: Why do you think that Russian media is being focused on as a result of the scandal surrounding the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal?
Dr. Roslyn Fuller: Part of it is, of course, politics as usual, which is if there's been an event on British soil politicians need to be seen taking decisive action on that point. As we know the UK is a nuclear power, the US is a nuclear power, Russia is a nuclear power, no one wants things to escalate militarily so it's a way of familiar sanctions, taking what seems to be very decisive action on an issue or decisive retaliation without opening up a whole new spectrum of potential military action or military escalation, so I think that is what's at the bottom of it, the need to be seeming to be doing something. The UK and the British government and various British media organizations have been attacking RT from the very beginning when it first set up in the UK and has been obviously most of the time publishing quite a lot of negative press about it and trying to insinuate that this is very biased, and this is purely an agent of foreign propaganda, and that there's no worthwhile information published on RT, and that people should not be listening to it, and, in fact, their ideas are dangerous for people to be listening to these ideas, it is dangerous for people to be critical of their own society, of questioning their own society and there has been quite a lot of pressure from the beginning to basically have RT and Sputnik shutdown and taken off the air.
It is a dangerous situation to be in because freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to hold your own opinions are really fundamental to a democracy and people don't always have to agree with those opinions, they don't have to like those opinion, those opinions might be right or they may be wrong, but it's important that we have that conversation and debate in a democracy, so it doesn't just represent a new era in Russian-Western relations, it also represents something very important democracies internally where we began to have these conversations about what opinion it is acceptable to have, what information it is acceptable to spread, it's very-very significant and very concerning.
The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Roslyn Fuller are those of the analyst and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.