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    Sputnik Expelled From Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce: 'Anti-Russian Witch Hunt'

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    The Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce has revoked Sputnik UK’s membership. The international news agency said it considers the move politically motivated. Sputnik discussed this with Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary of RMT, UK's biggest specialist transport union.

    Sputnik: What is the rationale behind the step taken by the Chamber of Commerce? Why would an independent and non-political organization take such a measure?

    Steve Hedley: There's absolutely no logical reason why a Chamber of Commerce would take this decision. It flies in the face of all logic; they're supposed to be an independent body; people with business links for that city, and to exclude a media program… I just don't get it, and I would like them to answer that question, because, to be quite honest, I couldn't second-guess what's going on here.

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    Sputnik: What consequences would that have for the news agency? How important is the membership?

    Steve Hedley: It would have none. It would have no desirable consequences whatsoever for the news agency in this particular field. But I think what they are trying to do is build-up this anti-Russian media momentum, I think this is the start of it, we've already seen RT threatened not just now, but in the past and I think it's part of this witch hunt, which is a bigger program here. We have a ton of censorship going on of any alternative point of view in the British media and we have the bizarre position where the BBC who are an arm of the British state; they propagandize the British state point of view and we have the same government who finances the BBC condemning Russia for having a state broadcasting agency. There's just absolutely no logic in the situation, and people are speculating, I think quite rightly, that this story has been whipped up to cover other bad news lately. 

    Like the Grenfell report that has come through, where nearly 100 people died (71 people died), because of government neglect and some are arguing it was corporate manslaughter. We also had the government withdrawing free school meals from around a million vulnerable children. So this was all done under this cover, and that's a possible explanation. Of course, the Conservative Party that orchestrated this campaign have a record of taking massive donations from Russian oligarchs who are living in Britain. So they take millions of pounds from Russians, they haven't got a problem with that whatsoever, and now they are attacking the Russian media and trying to hide important events.

    Sputnik: I suppose what you're telling us it's a way for Theresa May and the government of deflecting bad news. Are the British public taking this, are they accepting it, perhaps you can explain to us the general feeling within the UK about the government's attitude to this?

    Steve Hedley: Unfortunately, a lot of people in the UK are influenced by any kind of jingoism. If you tie a Union Jack to a dog, the dog will get a lot of sympathies, you know anybody with half a brain can see this for what it is.

    Sputnik: What are your thoughts on the attacks on the Russian media? To what extent does this pressure violate the freedom of press, because the British culture is all about the freedom of the press, but it seems as though this has been run against that freedom of press in terms of what appears to be going on at the moment?

    Steve Hedley: It's ironic isn't it, the so-called guardians of freedom and democracy, and rightly, free speech; when somebody actually has an effective channel that goes against it, has a different point of view, they want to throw that point of view out by censorship. We as a union often go on the RT programs and we always have robust debates. The difference between them and the BBC is that we are actually allowed a chance to get our point of view across because if you're not following the BBC agenda, they will cut you off and try to funnel the conversation. That's why I in particular, as an individual, much prefer to go on RT and have a robust debate, but be given the chance to express my opinion and point of view.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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