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The news that NatWest is closing RT UK's bank accounts without any explanation has ignited a social media storm from outraged readers and members of the public who have questioned Britain's "freedom of the press" and declared their support for RT.
Offering help & support

Countless RT readers sent messages of support and solidarity to the RT UK team, with quite a few offering services to RT to help fight the indignation.

"Sending solidarity to RT in the face of outrageous actions by the banks backed by the British government. Anything I can do to help just let me know," said Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary of the RMT Union, Britain's largest specialist transport trade union.

"RT has my support full support for what it's worth - Eire looks good round about now."

"I for one support RT and wish to see it continue. Hoping things return to normal ASAP and keep doing what you do - it's obviously working!"

"I would like you to know that I am disgusted with the behaviour of the British Government in respect of its relationship with Russia. The rhetoric is at the very least undiplomatic, but I believe it signals a growing desperation as the realisation of the impending defeat of globalism sinks in."

"Obviously, there is an attempt to silence RT in the UK by arbitrarily closing its UK bank accounts at Nat West and there probably will be both covert and overt attempts to take RT off air in the UK."

"I'm both sorry and ashamed as a UK citizen to hear about the frozen bank accounts. Doubtless a move by Westminster, the BBC and Sky and the wider political establishment to gag free speech."

"I cannot say that I agree 100% about every item you cover, but with very few exceptions, I consider your coverage far less biased, more in depth and better argued than the biased load of rubbish spewed by the BBC, Sky News and the UK press."

Questioning UK freedom of the press

Debate surrounding RT and its practices is nothing new but most can agree that censorship at any level is something that must be feared by every branch of the media, with many Twitter users calling the surprising development in Britain and Russia relations a "violation of press freedom."





Looking for government hand


Despite a statement from British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokeswoman who said NatWest's decision is "for them to decide who they offer services to based on their own risk appetite," many on Twitter have questioned the government's influence as they're significant shareholders in the Royal Royal Bank of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is part.






Lashing out at NatWest


While the vast majority of online outrage over the banking decision seemed to be directed towards the UK government, quite a lot of criticism was aimed at NatWest themselves, with some even taking it further by closing their accounts.

'It's important to stand up and say No'

Oliver Tickell, British journalist, author and campaigner on health and environmental issues, has launched a petition at Care2 website urging NatWest bank to reverse its decision to close RT's UK's bank accounts, calling it a "blatant attack"on media diversity.

Speaking to RT, the journalist pointed out that RT has been "tremendously successful" in providing an alternative take on events to its UK viewers, who "appreciate the diversity that it adds to otherwise frankly rather uniformed output, in particular, on television."

"It has carved out an important role for itself in covering stories that other channels don't cover and in covering a lot of stories that they do cover in rather different ways, with different emphasis," he said, noting in particular the "more factually sound" and "evidence-based" RT coverage of the war in Syria, as opposed to the "increasingly hysterical signals" sent by mainstream media.

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.

The UK media landscape in general has become increasingly uniform when it comes to viewpoints in its news coverage, the journalist argued.

"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, but could have wider implications for all alternative sources of information.

"It's important actually to stand up and say, 'No,' - up with this we will not put, because what's next? Where is the attack on alternative media and dissenting opinion going next?" he said.