British bank accounts of Russian broadcaster RT shut down

LONDON, Oct. 17 (UPI) — The British bank accounts of RT, the Russian state-run television broadcaster, were shut down, the channel’s editor in chief said Monday.

No reason was given by the National Westminster Bank, which administers RT’s accounts. RT’s press office said the bank is a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which includes the British government as a shareholder.

The action would compromise the broadcaster’s ability to remain on the air. RT Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan speculated it could be connected to comments Sunday by the governments of the United States and Britain, suggesting they are seeking possible further sanctions against Russia for its bombardment of Aleppo, Syria. RT is funded by the Russian government.

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Sources at Britain’s Treasury Department said such decisions are up to banks, the newspaper The Guardian reported Monday. Britain has not introduced new sanctions against Russia since February 2015.

The Guardian reported RT, formerly called Russia Today, was established 10 years ago to provide a pro-Russian slant on news to global viewers; that stance has turned anti-Western in recent years.

Referring to the closing of the bank accounts, Simonyan told RBK, the Russian business news website, “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.”

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