Latvia shuts down Sputnik propaganda website

After receiving a letter from the Foreign Ministry, Latvia's Network Information Center (NIC) has suspended sputniknews.lv, the Latvian domain name of the Kremlin-funded Sputnik propaganda outlet that poses as a newswire.

That's what NIC, the .LV domain registrar, told LSM's Latvian-language service Tuesday.

NIC said the Foreign Ministry letter was classified. NIC did however reveal that ensuring continuing operations of the sputniknews.lv website was at odds with the March 17, 2014 EU regulation that stipulates sanctions against activities endangering the territorial integrity and independence of the Ukrainian state.

The shutdown will be active until EU sanctions are lifted, Latvia's domain registrar told Lsm.lv.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Raimonds Jansons told Lsm.lv that there had been "inside debate" in state institutions on whether allowing Sputnik register a domain name is in the best interests of the state, however he could not offer comment on the content of the letter at the time. 

While Foreign Ministry pressman Mārtiņš Drēģeris told LETA that the ministry had merely alerted the responsible institutions about a possible violation of EU sanctions law, citing the link between Sputniknews.lv and the Rossiya Segodnya information empire headed by notorious journalist Dmitry Kiselov, subject to EU sanctions. 

Sputnik set up a website in Latvia in mid-February, served in Latvian and Russian. It launched an Estonian-language website shortly afterwards.

It is part of the Russia Today news empire, headed by the notorious journalist Dmitry Kiselov, currently barred from entering the European Union because of his propagandist activities.

Latvia already acts as home to several credible independent Russian news sources including Meduza and Spektr.

The Russian Foreign Ministry quickly issued a furious reaction to the news that Sputnik was not welcome in Latvian cyberspace.

"The Russian news media agency follows high professional and ethical standards in its work; its activity is in full conformity with Latvian national and EU laws and with all generally accepted norms and principles of international law in respect to freedom of expression and the media," the ministry blustered.

Riga has a "policy of methodically pushing Russian media out of Latvia. Such steps by the Latvian authorities with regard to a news agency are yet another challenge to European values and democratic freedoms," it claimed, seemingly with no irony intended.

 

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