Brussels has gagged four additional news outlets as it allegedly fights propaganda

The European Council has banned four more media outlets from reporting in the EU over allegations that they spread Russian propaganda.

Prior to Friday’s announcement, Brussels had already barred several Russia-associated media from engaging with audiences in member states since the Ukraine conflict escalated into open hostilities in February 2022. Even platforming content from the targeted organizations is illegal in the bloc.

The new additions to the blacklist announced on Friday include the relatively small Czech-based portal Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, a leading Russian news agency, and the veteran newspapers Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The latter is the official paper of the Russian government, which prints new laws, presidential decrees, and other executive documents to formally announce them to the general public, before they can enter force.

The council has claimed that the crackdown on Russian news is necessary to counter a “systematic, international campaign of media and information manipulation, interference and grave distortion of facts” about the Ukraine conflict.

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The European Commission, the executive body of the bloc, has hailed the news, declaring that Russia poses an increasing threat to the EU’s “democratic societies” ahead of elections to the European Parliament next month.

“The sanctions do not target freedom of opinion,” it claimed, citing the fact that the gag order does not prevent journalists working for the four outlets from carrying out other activities in the EU.

Moscow has accused Brussels of duplicity and attacking freedom of speech with its restrictions. The campaign to undermine the work of Russian news organizations long predates the Ukraine conflict and is aimed at preventing European citizens from hearing opinions that their government deem undesirable, Russian officials have claimed.