The Kremlin’s Foreign News Network Just Had Its Bank Account Cut Off

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Kremlin-funded news outlet RT’s bank accounts were frozen in the United Kingdom, according to the organization’s editor in chief.

“They closed our accounts in Britain. All of them. ‘Decision not to be discussed’,” Margarita Simonyan tweeted Monday morning. “Long live freedom of speech!”

The National Westminster Bank, a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), informed RT’s U.K. subsidiary that it will no longer include the network as a client, according to a statement from RT.

“We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities,” said NatWest in a letter to RT, partially published on the network’s website. The letter also noted RBS as a whole would not do business with the network, and that the decision was final.

Simonyan claimed that the network has “no idea” why its accounts were closed, but she did speculate that the U.K. and the U.S. may be behind it.

“Hypothetically, this may have something to do with the new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon,” Simonyan told RBK business news. “It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now.”

RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a Kremlin-funded English language news outlet with branches in both the U.S. and U.K. The network is known for its pro-Russia leanings and has been accused of running a propaganda arm for the Russian government. It was also accused of censoring negative Russian news stories, including the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine and footage of a Russian cluster bomb in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry and U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced Sunday that their respective countries were considering sanctions against Russia for its transgressions in Syria. It is so far unclear if NatWest’s decision to cut off RT’s accounts is in any way connected.

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