Russian media abroad facing unacceptable pressure: Putin

Twitter has disclosed details about suspicious activity on its network during last year's US election. It also said it was taking steps to prevent efforts to manipulate its network.
Twitter has disclosed details about suspicious activity on its network during last year's US election. It also said it was taking steps to prevent efforts to manipulate its network.PHOTO: REUTERS

Comments come after Twitter tells US panels it has suspended Russian-linked accounts

MOSCOW • President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of Russia's Security Council yesterday that the country's media outlets working abroad were facing growing and unacceptable pressure.

Mr Putin's spokesman, Mr Dmitry Peskov, told reporters: "It was stressed that such pressure on Russian media is unacceptable."

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

Meanwhile, RT's editor-in-chief, Ms Margarita Simonyan, yesterday slammed Twitter for revealing "monstrous information" in the United States Congress, saying its purchase of advertisements was standard commercial practice.

"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," Ms Simonyan was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

"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," she added.

Twitter on Thursday disclosed details about suspicious activity on its network during last year's US election after it met two congressional committees conducting probes into Russian meddling, but a top Democrat slammed its presentation as "deeply disappointing".

Twitter said it disabled 22 accounts after reviewing information from Facebook showing connections to 450 bogus accounts on that company's social network.

NOTHING UNUSUAL

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, reacting after Twitter provided details of the Kremlin-backed media outlet's ad spending on the social network in the US last year.

Twitter said it had also suspended about 200 Russian-linked accounts, and was taking steps to prevent efforts to manipulate its network.

Company representatives met both House and Senate intelligence panels behind closed doors. 

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, blasted the company's presentation, saying: "Their response was frankly inadequate on almost every level. There is a lot more work they have to do."

Twitter said it shared a round-up of advertisements by RT, the TV network funded by the Russian government that was formerly known as Russia Today.

RT spent US$274,100 (S$372,170) on ads and promoted 1,823 tweets potentially aimed at the US market last year, according to Twitter, which said it was still reviewing its internal data. US intelligence agencies have said that RT played a role in Russia's attempts to meddle in the presidential election last year.

US lawmakers from both parties suspect social networks may have played a big role in Moscow's attempts to spread propaganda, sow political discord in the country and help Mr Donald Trump win the presidential election. Moscow denies any such activity, and Mr Trump has denied any collusion.

Mr Warner's comments signalled that the congressional investigations into Russia's use of social media platforms would not ease up.

In a separate development yesterday, Russia's communications regulator accused US TV channel CNN International of violating Russian media law and said it had summoned the broadcaster's representatives in connection with the matter.

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.

No further details were immediately available on the nature of the breaches.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Russian media abroad facing unacceptable pressure: Putin'. Print Edition | Subscribe