France seems to be spearheading efforts to silence dissent in Europe, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has said Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. © Sputnik

France’s push to ban Russian news outlets both on the nation’s territory and in the EU is unacceptable, Moscow’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. Earlier this month, the nation’s TV regulator Arcom ordered satellite operator Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Channel One Russia, Rossiya 1, and NTV channels.

In a statement, Zakharova said the French watchdog had imposed those restrictions “under apparent pressure from the authorities,” adding that the move preceded relevant sanctions on the EU level. “Moscow is outraged by the new steps taken by Paris aimed at introducing more and more broadcasting bans on Russian media, both on its territory and in the EU as a whole,” she stated.

Such actions suggest that France, given its political clout in the bloc, “is the main lobbyist” supporting the ban on Russian TV channels in Europe, Zakharova claimed. “Such a display of Russophobia, which, unfortunately, has already become mundane, [points to] the aspiration to silence any voices that provide an alternative to the EU propaganda at all cost.”

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According to Zakharova, Europeans “are being deprived of the right to free access to information.” She suggested that Paris and Brussels might be “afraid that the audience, after seeing a different point of view and picture of the world that does not correspond to that shown by the mainstream of the Western media, will draw their own conclusions” about global politics and the Ukraine conflict.

The spokeswoman described the crackdown on Russian media as “a flagrant violation” of freedom of speech, which is “discriminatory in nature.” The ban is “another testament that the Western ideal democratization model is in fact no more than a tool for achieving foreign policy goals,” Zakharova claimed.

In recent years, Western countries unleashed a massive campaign against Russian media, which only intensified after Moscow started its military operation against Ukraine. In March, the EU suspended the broadcasting activities of Sputnik and RT, with the number of blacklisted channels only growing as the bloc introduced new sanctions packages.