RT germany

(L) RT Deutsche; (R) Ruptly
The company behind RT's video agency Ruptly and RT DE Productions GmbH, which runs the German-language website, received a notice about their accounts being closed by Commerzbank.

Ruptly GmbH and RT DE Productions GmbH have been informed by Commerzbank that it will no longer offer them its services, with the decision set to come into force on May 31.

RT believes this to be part of a wider campaign to obstruct its work in Germany. Last November, Commerzbank inexplicably made its terms of service much less financially favorable for RT, starting an ongoing legal dispute. RT has been trying to find a replacement for Commerzbank, but several financial institutions, including Helaba, Deutsche Bank, DZ Bank, BNP Paribas, ING, HSBC, UBS, and HypoVereinsbank, have either ignored RT's inquiries or refused to open accounts on its behalf.

The latest development comes one month after RT announced it is planning to launch a German-language TV channel in December 2021.

"Considering that Commerzbank is shutting down our account without any explanation and 20 other German and international financial organizations have refused to work with us, we have every reason to believe that RT in Germany has been targeted by what is essentially a financial embargo," Dinara Toktosunova, the head of RT in Germany, said.

RT has experienced problems with access to banking services in Germany since at least 2017, when Commerzbank attempted to cancel its contract with Ruptly.

Russian media in other Western nations have come under increased government pressure. The three Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, have threatened journalists working for outlets such as Sputnik with prosecution and have otherwise harassed them.

Moscow sees such cases as evidence of the hypocrisy of Western nations. Last month, Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, posted a laundry list of cases in which Russian journalists were obstructed or otherwise targeted, asking rhetorically: "So when do you think they will impose sanctions on themselves?"

Russia will take 'tough measures' against German media if Berlin impedes work of Russian journalists - Moscow

"We consider such an openly hostile attitude ... toward media, including the Russian ones, unacceptable," Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday.

Such actions are an "element of political pressure" on journalists and they constitute a "violation of Germany's commitment to protect the freedom of speech," Zakharova said.

Zakharova said that it is such plans that apparently sparked an angry reaction among the "anti-Russian" forces within the German media and establishment and have led to what she described as a "persecution" campaign.

"All actions of the Russian broadcaster were legally valid. Therefore, such a primitive approach apparently was chosen to obstruct its work."

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called on Berlin to stop obstructing the work of Russian journalists in Germany and lift all restrictions imposed against the Russian media. "Otherwise, we will have to take tough reciprocal measures against German media working in Russia," Zakharova warned.

Russia has its own concerns about the work of the German media and German journalists on its territory, Zakharova noted. She added, though, that all such issues are resolved in accordance with the law and on the basis of "mutual respect" and dialogue.

"We would very much like to see Germany doing the same," the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman added.