Latvian minister calls on Sweden to cooperate over Russian "hate speech"

On 26 May 2018, Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, made a working visit to Sweden and took part in a Baltic Day event, “Baltics 100 years” in the Skansen Open-Air Museum in Stockholm, his ministry said in a statement.

He used the opportunity of a meeting with his Swedish counterpart Margot Wallstrom to stress "the need for the Swedish and Latvian electronic media regulators to cooperate at the operational level so as to prevent unlawful canvassing and restrict hate speech on Russia’s TV channels," the statement said.

The Latvian broadcast regulator, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) would like to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with its Swedish counterpart, said the Foreign Minister, and he called on the regulators "to agree on a solution to restrict systematic occurrences of the manifestations of hate speech in Russian TV programs."

At a recent press conference, the NEPLP board played selections of what they said were misleading broadcasts by Russian media channels, though they refrained from announcing any concrete sanctions, citing the difficulty of doing so without support from other jurisdictions in which Russian media are registered.

In further Swedish-Latvian exchange on May 26, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven sent a message of support to Latvia's opposition Saskaņa political party as it held its conference ahead of elections on October 6.

"I value the cooperation between our parties, and that is why I wish you good luck in the upcoming elections," Lofven said.

Several other prominent European politicians also sent messages of support including EU commissioner Marošs Šefčovič.

(NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that PBK (FIrst Baltic Channel) was among the companies registered in Sweden. It is in fact registered in Latvia as reported previously. We apologize for the error.) 

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