Mon, 17 Oct 2016 12:16 UTC
"Our accounts in Britain have been blocked. All of them. 'Decision not to be discussed'. Hail to freedom of speech!" RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Twitter account.
The National Westminster Bank has informed RT UK that it will no longer have the broadcaster among its clients. The bank provided no explanation for the decision.
"We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities," NatWest said in a letter to RT's London office.
The bank said that the entire Royal Bank of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is part, would refuse to service RT. The letter said the decision was final and that it is "not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it."
"We have no idea why it happened, because neither yesterday nor the day before yesterday, nor a month ago, nothing special happened to us, nobody threatened us in any way. Hypothetically, this may have something to do with new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon. It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now," Margarita Simonyan told RBK business news website.
Commenting on the development, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said it indicated that "Britain on its way out of the EU abandoned all its commitments to protect the freedom of speech."
"It seems more than a coincidence that this has taken place at a time when the anti-Russian propaganda has been ramped up to unprecedented levels," writer John Wight told RT. "This reflects the extent to which the West is losing the information war. RT plays a key role in challenging the narrative of the West and Western media when it comes to events in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East."
Comment: Any SOTT readers have accounts with NatWest clients like RBS? Please consider the example of Tony West:
"I have been a NatWest account holder in the UK since 2003, today I just emailed them the following text:See also:
"According to today's news you arbitrarily intend to cancel the bank accounts of RT NEWS, as this is my preferred news source it is my intention to arbitrarily cancel my banking services with you and I sincerely hope that my account cancellation is joined by thousands of other like-minded account holders, I don't suppose you could recommend another banking service could you, perhaps one that sticks to banking and not politics?
"Sincerely, Tony West"
If you share these sentiments or are a NatWest client who has doubts about the bank's policies following its decision against RT, send us your story at [email protected]
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"These decisions are not taken lightly. We are reviewing the situation and are contacting the customer to discuss this further. The bank accounts remain open and are still operative," Sarah Hinton-Smith, Head of Corporate & Institutional, Commercial & Private Media at RBS Communications, wrote.Update 2 (Oct. 18): More signs of support for this obvious political move:
However, the response by Hinton-Smith contradicted an earlier statement by RBS Group, which said that the decision to suspend banking services to RT was final and not up for discussion.
The broadcaster addressed the Royal Bank of Scotland representative over the contradiction, pointing out that "your statement seems to suggest that the bank will contact RT and that there will be a review and further discussion."
"There's not much more of a steer I can give other than what is in the statement," Hinton-Smith replied via email.
- Support floods in for RT following NatWest accounts closure notice
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- UK move on RT 'part of EU policy of harassment against Russia-linked organizations' - European think tank
Wright: There seems to be no financial reason, and it seems more than a coincidence that this has taken place at a time when the anti-Russian propaganda has been ramped up to unprecedented levels.
In London last week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for public demonstrations to be staged outside the Russian embassy in London. That's remarkable. This reflects the extent to which the West is losing the information war. RT plays a key role in challenging the narrative of the West and Western media when it comes to events in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East.
Clark: The great thing about RT is that it urges viewers to question more. I'm afraid the British establishment doesn't want the people to question more, it wants them to question less and swallow the propaganda. It's about RT being punished for telling the truth and for putting on voices which don't get put on the establishment channels.British journalist Oliver Tickwell launched a petition protesting NatWest/RBS, calling it a "blatant attack on diversity that aims, ultimately, to close down its distinctive and valuable voice, and restrict choice for UK viewers.": "if we put up with this, then what's next?"
The journalist pointed out that RT has been "tremendously successful" in providing an alternative take on events for its UK viewers, who "appreciate the diversity that it adds to otherwise frankly rather uniformed output, in particular, on television." ... "There is a sort of a hegemonic point of view about a lot of issues that is becoming increasingly unacceptable to deviate from," Tickell said, adding that the current "attack" on RT goes beyond the attempt to restrict its coverage, and could hold wider implications for all alternative sources of information.
RT is often portrayed by its opponents, including the BBC, as a "propaganda" channel, Tickell wrote in the petition, arguing that the only difference between the two channels is that BBC exclusively conveys the opinion of the British government and elites, while RT allows the other side to be heard. "RT's account of many contentious issues - for example events in Syria and Ukraine - is often more credible, accurate and evidence-based than those of mainstream media," the petition concludes.