The ban on the pro-Kremlin propaganda channel Russia Today (RT) is causing waves. In the eXXpress forum, it is largely rejected. “There seems to be good and bad censorship,” Reader says sarcastically. “In a democracy you should listen to all sources,” writes another.
The fact is: RT will disappear from the offer of domestic network providers because, according to the Constitutional Committee of Parliament, it is an “instrument of warfare”. Germany had already preceded Austria with this decision, both countries are thus participating in the sanctions regime of the European Union.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on February 27 that she would ban Russia’s “toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe”. But there is not quite so much unanimity in Brussels on the issue. Twelve SPD MEPs voted against the ban, three abstained.
The Social Democratic MEP Petra Kammerevert considers “bans in a liberal media world, in which we live fortunately in Europe, always the worst option”, as she emphasizes to FOCUS Online. She’s not the only one. Criticism of the decision has also been raised among journalists and scientists.
“Why do you want to ban the Russian channels RT and Sputnik?” Asks the journalist Karl-Peter Schwarz in the “Presse”. “Sure, they do just as much propaganda as the Putin apologists on social media. But a free society must be able to endure this. Only those who stand by their values are credible.”
The eXXpress columnist Christian Ortner takes a similar view:
The British media expert Stephen Hutching, Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Manchester, also spoke out against the EU decision in advance: “The ban seems to me to be more of a symbolic gesture,” he is quoted as saying by the “Standard”. A ban on RT television programming would not change the fact that RT is still accessible online and via social media.
Incidentally, this only reinforces the Russian narrative, according to which the Western media deliberately want to hide some things. Hutching also sees RT as a tool for disinformation, but: “It’s better to hear the propaganda or disinformation than to hide and ban it.” You could also counter her. “We shouldn’t be afraid of RT.”
Russia is likely to react to the end of the RT TV program with its censorship measures. Moscow is already not exactly squeamish about censorship. The word “war” must not be used in connection with Ukraine. Anyone who allegedly spreads false news about the Ukraine war faces up to 15 years in prison. If, in future, Western broadcasters are also blocked in Russia as a reaction, they would then no longer be able to report locally – also to the detriment of the Russian population.
Christian Mihr, the managing director of “Reporters Without Borders”, takes the same line. He thinks the EU’s decision was a mistake. He also sees in RT and also in Sputnik “a central element of Putin’s propaganda”, but in the long term “the negative effects of such a ban on reporting from Russia would weigh more heavily”. The influence of the Russian state media on opinion-forming in Europe is limited, “however, the expected Russian countermeasures could make independent reporting from Russia more difficult or even impossible.”