Russian state-funded news outlets RT and Sputnik have been denied press passes for the inaugural global media freedom conference to be held in London this week.
The Foreign Office, which is organising the event alongside the Canadian Government, said they had not been granted media accreditation “because of their active role in spreading disinformation”.
Broadcaster RT and news agency Sputnik are both funded by the Kremlin and aimed at audiences outside Russia.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said today: “We are keen that international media outlets cover the Global Conference on Media Freedom.
“While it’s not possible to accommodate all requests for accreditation, journalists from across the world’s media are attending the conference, including from Russia.
“We have not accredited RT and Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation.”
Press Gazette understands the Russian media granted accreditation includes other state-funded outlets.
The Foreign Office’s international media freedom conference will be held in London on Wednesday and Thursday and will be attended by government ministers and officials, the diplomatic community, international agencies, journalists and academics.
It is aiming to examine media freedom, how to make the world a safer place for journalists and “will see countries and international organisations coming together to take meaningful action to defend media freedom”, the Foreign Office has said.
An RT spokesperson said: “It takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media.
“Sadly, the world has learned to expect just that from the UK Foreign Office.”
The Russian Embassy said it has contacted the Foreign Office to express “expressed resolute disagreement” at the decision not to accredit RT.
“It amounts to direct politically motivated discrimination of the Russian channel,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The refusal of accreditation comes on top of the months-long smear campaign against RT by British political figures, governmental bodies, including media regulator Ofcom, and even fellow journalists.”
At the end of 2018 UK broadcast regulator Ofcom found RT (formerly Russia Today) had “failed to preserve due impartiality” in seven news and current affairs programmes over a six-week period last year between 17 March and 26 April.
The breaches together “represent a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules”, Ofcom said, adding that it was considering a statutory sanction.
RT has since said it plans to take Ofcom to court for a judicial review of its ruling.
In May Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt criticised RT for wanting “their viewers to believe that truth is relative and the facts will always fit the Kremlin’s official narrative. Even when that narrative keeps changing”.
Picture: Reuters/Gleb Garanich