MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday, without providing evidence, that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was being used to undermine the internal political situation and security in Russia.
Moscow has said foreign media, including from Britain, offer a partial view of the world. Some Western governments dismiss that assertion and accuse Russian state media of bias, including over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The European Union banned Russian state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik with immediate effect on Wednesday for what it branded as systematic disinformation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The sanction means EU operators will be prohibited from broadcasting, facilitating or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of any RT and Sputnik content.
Britain’s media regulator was also considering whether RT should retain its licence in the country as it conducts 15 investigations into the broadcaster’s impartiality and a further 12 into its programming.[nL8N2V56S0]
“The fact that Russian journalists are still at least somehow able to work there (in Britain) is associated solely with London’s fears of jeopardising the position of the BBC radio and television corporation in Russia, since it is far from being assigned the last role in undermining domestic political stability and security in our country,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing in Moscow.
The BBC declined to comment on the matter.
Asked about Zakharova’s remarks, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the BBC operated independently of the government.
“It is important that the BBC and other media organisations are editorially independent and they are free to report the news in the way they do,” he said.
The European Union has proposed banning RT and news agency Sputnik to prevent what it said was Russian propaganda. But Britain has warned that such an approach could lead to a reciprocal ban by Moscow against the BBC and others.
Russia and Britain have had dire relations for years, hitting low points with the fatal 2006 poisoning of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko in London and the attempted killing of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in 2018.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss last month of grandstanding and of refusing to listen after talks in Moscow that underlined the gulf between them over the Ukraine crisis.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Gareth Jones)