Putin complains of growing pressure on Russian media outlets, warns of tit-for-tat measures

Twitter has suspended about 200 Russian-linked accounts as it probes alleged online efforts to meddle in the 2016 US election by Moscow.
Twitter has suspended about 200 Russian-linked accounts as it probes alleged online efforts to meddle in the 2016 US election by Moscow. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of Russia’s Security Council on Friday (Sept 29) that Russian media outlets working abroad were facing growing and unacceptable pressure, Mr Dmitry Peskov, his spokesman, said.

“It was stressed that such pressure on Russian media is unacceptable,” Mr Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

He did not name the countries where the Kremlin was concerned Russian media were coming under pressure. 

Earlier this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Washington of putting unwarranted pressure on the US operations of Kremlin-backed media outlet RT, and warned that Moscow could take tit-for-tat measures. 

Russia’s communications regulator accused US TV channel CNN International of violating Russian media law earlier on Friday and said it had summoned the broadcaster’s representatives in connection   

The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement on its website that it would look at warning the channel about the alleged violations which it said also breached the terms of its broadcast licence.

Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief of Kremlin-backed media outlet RT said on Friday its purchase of advertisements on Twitter was standard commercial practice that was being falsely presented as Russian meddling in US affairs, RIA news agency reported.

San Francisco-based Twitter said RT, also known as Russia Today, had spent US$274,100 (S$372,083.90) on Twitter advertisements and promoted 1,823 tweets potentially aimed at the US market.

Twitter, whose executives testified before US lawmakers on Thursday, has suspended about 200 Russian-linked accounts as it probes alleged online efforts to meddle in the 2016 US election by Moscow.

"Twitter has revealed some monstrous information in Congress: we spent money on our ad campaigns. Just as all the usual media organisations in the world do," RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

"Now we have to go even further and admit sincerely: we spent on ads in airports, taxis, on billboards, the Internet, TV and radio as well. Our commercials were even broadcast on CNN," she said.

"Somehow it did not occur to us that, in a developed democracy, regular media advertising could turn out to be a suspicious and harmful activity," Ms Simonyan said.