Media watchdog promises to tell Europe about RT ownership

Latvia's media regulator, the National Electonic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) took the unusual step July 7 of releasing an English-language statement concerning media in the Russian Federation and the application of European Union sanctions. It is reproduced verbatim below and follows recent NEPLP action reported by LSM to ban the broadcasts of propaganda channel RT in Latvia.

Dmitry Kiselyov, who is on the sanction list of Council of the European Union, has full control over RT (formerly known as Russia Today) TV programmes according to the decree signed by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. Based on the decree, the liquidation of RT owner, company “RIA Novosti” was begun.

NEPLP believes that public has a right to know about the facts at our disposal. “NEPLP as Latvian electronic media regulator will inform the European Union media regulators about these facts this week, which reveals the connection between Kiselyov, subject to EU sanction list, and RT. In addition, we expect that a similar decision will be made by other European Union member states” said NEPLP chairperson Ivars Āboliņš.

There are several programmes included in the list of audio and audiovisual programmes retransmitted in Latvia which assets, financial resources and economic resources are actually controlled by one person – Dmitry Kiselyov via the sole shareholder of the owner of the programmes.

In compliance with the information received from security institution, television programmes “RT (Russia Today)”; “RT (Russia Today) HD”; “RT (Russia Today) Arabic”; “RT (Russia Today) Spanish”; “RT Documentary (HD)”; “RT Documentary”, and “RT TV (Russia Today TV)” that are being distributed in the territory of Latvia are in personal possession and under control of person Dmitry Kiselyov who is subjected to sanctions.

As a result, NEPLP decided to restrict the distribution of seven programmes in Latvia, which in the opinion of the Latvian security authorities are the most influential channels of Russian propaganda in Western Europe. The decision has come into force on July 6 from the moment of its announcement in the official newspaper “Latvijas Vēstnesis”, immediately informing all Latvian cable operators. Also, this week, the Council will inform the media regulators of other European Union member states and will invite them to decide on restricting RT programmes.

The owner/holder of the rights of "RT" television programmes is a company “TV-Novosti” which was founded on April 6, 2005. The sole founder (shareholder) of “TV-Novosti” is federal unitary state company "International Information Agency of Russia "RIA Novosti"" (hereinafter – “RIA Novosti”) which since December 20, 2013 has been in the stage of liquidation. The head of the liquidation commission of “RIA Novosti” is the citizen of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Kiselyov, who is the sole person having the right to act on behalf of the company without the authorisation. Having regard to the aforementioned, it can be concluded that Dmitry Kiselyov actually implements the control over “RIA Novosti”, its assets, financial resources and economic resources as well as actual operation of “RIA Novosti” in the process of its liquidation.

In addition to the aforementioned, it has to be indicated that the basis for the liquidation of “RIA Novosti” is Decree No. 894 “On Measures to Enhance the Efficiency of National Mass Media” which was signed on  December 9, 2013 by the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. Paragraph 6 of the decree assigns “to liquidate federal unitary state company “International Information Agency of Russia “RIA Novosti”. Besides, it is indicated in paragraph 7 of the aforementioned decree that as from the liquidation of "RIA Novosti", the right of the founder with regard to organisation that have been established by federal unitary state company “International Information Agency of Russia “RIA Novosti””, are transferred to federal unitary state company “International Information Agency “Rossiya Segodnya””. It can be concluded from the aforementioned that as from the liquidation of company “RIA Novosti” the right of its founder in media company “TV-Novosti” will be transferred to “Rossiya Segodnya”.

On the basis of European Union Council Implementation Regulation No. 2010/151/CFSP of  March 21, 2014, Dmitry Kiselyov has been included in the list of the persons subjected to restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine indicated in European Union Council Decision 2014/145/CFSP of  March 17, 2014.

Section 11 of the Law on International Sanctions and National Sanctions of the Republic of Latvia regarding introduction, imposition, and enforcement of sanctions envisages that “… the sanctions imposed by the European Union regulations are binding and directly applicable to the Republic of Latvia”. Apart from that, in accordance with Article 288 of the Treaty on the European Union, the provisions of regulations and decisions of the European Union are directly applicable in the member states.

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