Russia's foreign minister said that the prosecution of Russian journalists in the West had reached an unacceptable scale.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Russian journalists have been harassed in the US, Europe and Ukraine. The minister told reporters at a joint press conference with Venezuela's top diplomat, Carlos Faria that Moscow never wanted to take any measures that would affect journalistic freedoms.
Russia is interested in ending the war on journalists, Lavrov said, adding that the Western nations can't stop it without losing face. Moscow can't stand still because of the pressure its journalists are facing, especially since the persecution has reached a scale that is impossible to bear any longer, he argued.
The Minister said that the West has buried the freedom of speech with its own hands and that we initially did not want to give a mirror response that would affect journalists rights. It was not us who started this war, Lavrov said, adding that the West just went too far. The minister accused Western governments of deviating from international law and creating their own rules that allow them to decide what is freedom of information and what is propaganda. The minister referred to French President Emmanuel Macron's decision to bar Russia's RT broadcaster and Sputnik news agency, first from covering his campaign in 2017 and later from accessing the lys e Palace in 2018. He described both outlets as organs of influence and propaganda. There are a large number of such examples, Lavrov said on Monday. Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February, which has further strained relations between Moscow and the West, including in the media field. In response to the launch of Russia's offensive, Western countries have imposed restrictions on certain media outlets. As a result of these measures, RT and Sputnik and their accounts on some social media platforms have been made inaccessible in the EU. The US has a constitutional ban on overt censorship, but YouTube has blocked the accounts of RT and Sputnik. Russia has blocked the websites of several Western state-owned outlets, including BBC, Deutsche Welle, Svoboda and Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.