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UK bars Russia’s state news outlets from global conference on media freedom over ‘active role in spreading disinformation’

London/Moscow: The UK government has decided to bar the Russian media outlets, from attending the ‘Defend Media Freedom’ Conference. “The Russian media outlets, RT and Sputnik are being banned, because of their ‘active role in spreading disinformation,’ the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. The UK ban is considered to be a part of the information warfare between the two countries.

media freedom, spreading disinformation, Sputnik, news outlets, ban, Russia, UK, Sergei SkripalAn exclusive two-day ‘Defend Media Freedom’ conference is being held in London, on the 10th and 11th of July which has been jointly organised by the United Kingdom and Canada. Ministers from more than 60 countries and more than 1,000 journalists, would be attending the conference. The primary agenda of the meeting would be maintaining the credibility of media and unity against the efforts to spread fake news and disinformation.

While informing on the upcoming conference, the UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Russia’s main state media outlets, RT and Sputnik were banned from the conference. The two outlets were said to have been banned as both were allegedly leaders in spreading fake news and disinformation. However, they justified the decision by stating that other Russian media were permitted to attend the conference.

It is the first instance of the Russian media being openly banned from attending a global conference in the United Kingdom. The ban is indicative of the intensifying information wars between Russia and the United Kingdom in the last few years. Furthermore, Brexit in 2016 as also the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom last year, are considered to be critical stages in the information warfare between the two countries.

The British media, leaders and analysts had alleged that Russia had a hand in the propaganda to get the United Kingdom to leave the European Union (EU). There was a strong exchange of accusations between the two countries, after the poisoning of a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal. The UK government and media had accused the Russian media of spreading misleading information globally on the British system and the sequence of events that had occurred. Additionally, the United States, as also the European countries, had supported the claim.

Given the background, the United Kingdom was revealed to have taken aggressive moves with the initiation of cyberattacks and information warfare through other means against Russia. Also, the UK government reports, clearly mention the information warfare said to have undertaken by Russia and the need for strongly retaliating to it. The conference organised in the UK capital is also considered to be a part of the same effort. By barring the Russian media from the conference, the United Kingdom has delivered a clear message that it was prepared for the information wars.

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