Earlier today, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said that all the company's accounts in the UK have been blocked. Following her statement on Twitter, RT UK said it had been informed by the National Westminster Bank that it "will no longer provide" banking arrangements for the broadcaster.
"Long live freedom of speech!" Simonyan grimly remarked, while Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the issue by saying that London has seemingly abandoned all of its freedom of speech obligations.
Meanwhile, British politician and broadcaster George Galloway told Sputnik that while the decision to block RT’s accounts was made by the bank, it’s more than likely that this move has been given a tacit approval by the British government.
"There’s no doubt that the government must’ve been consulted and assented to such a crude and transparently obvious political step that comes as discussions have been taking place in London between a motley crew of coalition allies about stepping up sanctions on Syria and on Russia. And it’s clear enough that this is the first shot, at least, in a new offensive. This necessarily means the abandonment by Britain of its obligations towards freedom of speech, freedom of expression; it takes British-Russian relations back to not just a Cold War era but probably to the early 20s," Galloway said.
He also pointed out that while a bank as a private entity can in fact legally cease to deal with a broadcaster, and that the exact same thing had been done to the Press TV several years ago, but the government cannot escape the consequences of such a move.
"There will be serious consequences now for British-Russian relations because it is a transparent attempt to make it more difficult for RT’s audience to reach it. Now of course this is the 16th year of the 21st century and no bank and no government can stop people from finding the truth even if they were to entirely block RT, banish it from Britain; even if those of us who work for it were forced to relocate to Moscow for the winter. They cannot stop us because the age in which we live means that the public can always find an alternative point of view, can always find an alternative truth, and more and more people are doing so, and that’s the problem."
He further added that while the Soviet propaganda from the old days was crude and unconvincing, RT is a "highly professional news organization whose production values are as good as any other station in the whole world," and that instead of promoting one select point of view the broadcaster "allows on its platform all kinds of disparate views left, right and center."
"On my show on RT just yesterday, on Saturday, I had a member of the House of Lords and the chief economist from SOAS – the School of Oriental and African Studies. This lord was the sixth or seventh lord that we’ve had on (our show). We have MPs from the conservatives, liberals, labor on our show. It’s a plurality which can’t be found, frankly, on the British state broadcaster. And because people want to hear an alternative truth they’re turning in droves to RT. And this crude nuisance to RT, no doubt it will cause some financial hiccups for a short time, this will not stop RT growing and growing," Galloway declared.