According to journalists, after almost 2 years of war, some Kremlin resources are still unblocked. EU representatives shift responsibility to national providers.
International sanctions do not always show their effectiveness, and Russian resources, including Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, continue to broadcast in the countries of the European Union. This is stated in the material of the Balkan service of Radio Liberty dated January 31.
In March 2022, international sanctions were imposed against Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. Almost two years later, Russia Today and Sputnik, which, as the material says, the Kremlin uses to spread propaganda and disinformation, continue to function on the European continent in six languages at once: English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Serbian.
The fact of Russian work is confirmed by the authors of the material. They published screenshots taken on several devices in the EU. The only RT domain that was blocked was the American version of the site.
Russian media in Europe: EU reaction
EU sanctions expert at the Open Society Institute Tinatin Tsertsvadze said that broadcasting continues due to the fact that none of the authorities of European countries began to demand that national providers block resources.
“National authorities designate the relevant public authorities or agencies responsible for the implementation and enforcement of EU sanctions, depending on the sector covered by the specific sanctions provision,” the expert said.
Accordingly, the material continues, the implementation of sanctions in the media sphere remains at the discretion of providers.
The representative of the European Commission responsible for the digital economy, research and innovation, Johannes Barke, in turn, added that Russian state media, which are under the influence of the Kremlin and were subject to sanctions, had to stop their activities in Europe. The restrictions, he said, apply to cable and satellite television, IPTV, platforms, websites and applications. Their licenses and permits should be suspended.
At the same time, when asked by journalists about the implementation of sanctions in real life, the expert replied that the responsibility lies with the providers.
“Relevant providers must block access to websites of sanctioned media outlets, including subdomains or newly created domains, and relevant national authorities must take any necessary accompanying regulatory measures,” said Johannes Barke.
After this, journalists submitted a request to the Belgian Ministry of Telecommunications, where the EU headquarters is located. They wanted to know why Russian media, despite sanctions, continue to operate in Europe. There was no answer.
Russian media in Europe: circumventing sanctions
Co-owner and editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian platform StopFake Yevgeny Fedchenko, in a commentary to the Balkan service of Radio Liberty, said that the restrictions that were introduced against Russian media in the first weeks of the invasion of Ukraine are now virtually absent.
The Kremlin continues to quickly restore its capabilities in this area, because it understands that EU countries will not make efforts to prevent it. Accordingly, the Russian Federation continues to occupy a place in the European information space, says Evgeny Fedchenko.
For example, there is a Spanish version of Sputnik and it is now available throughout the country. At the same time, the Russian leadership had to move its activities to Latin America, because there were no restrictions there to circumvent the restrictions.
“It took time and effort to find new platforms and new ways to remain relevant. Now they can easily return to “business as usual”, since the EU has no desire to put the problem of Russian disinformation at the top of its agenda,” concluded Evgeniy Fedchenko.
Let us recall that on January 16, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky explained why sanctions against the Russian Federation are ineffective. According to him, the obvious weakness of the West is that the Russian nuclear industry is still not under sanctions.
On March 9, 2023, it was reported that Lithuania was going to block Russian propaganda TV channels that were subject to sanctions. The press release states that the continuation of broadcasting will be subject to administrative and criminal liability, so providers were urged to listen to the innovation.