OSCE 'concerned' about Latvia's Sputnik ban

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The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Thursday it was "concerned" at Latvia's decision to prevent Kremlin-backed website Sputnik operating a Latvian domain name.

A press release from the OSCE's Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said she had written to Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs asking for more information about the shutting down of the sputniknews.lv news portal.

On 29 March the administrator of the domain .LV Registry shut down the Russian government-owned operation after receiving a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs questioning the legality of the portal’s operations and compliance with EU sanctions regulations.

“I am concerned that the actions by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs might set a dangerous precedent in a take-down policy related to media websites in Latvia,” Mijatović said in the letter.

“As a general principle I would advise against blocking or the take down of websites, especially if it is done without judicial oversight.”

The Sputnik website in the Latvian language has resumed its operations under a new domain outside Latvian jurisdiction.

On Thursday, Rinkēvičs told LSM his decision was based on establishing a clear link between Sputnik and a violation of EU sanctions and suggested other EU member states might consider whether similar bans would be appropriate in their territories.


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