Recent financial moves targeting a popular alt-news media outlet have some pundits questioning whether U.S., UK, and NATO antagonism toward Russia is spilling over into official acts of silencing alternative media outlets that challenge the pro-war mainstream media narrative, specifically as they relate to the Middle East and North Africa.
By Mark Anderson
To hear “Russia Today” (RT) tell it, it is a distinct possibility that the news organization is being targeted in these tense times of U.S.-UK-NATO saber rattling toward Russia.
But RT is not speaking from a detached journalistic position. Rather, RT itself just became the victim of a sudden, unprecedented move by the National Westminster Bank (NatWest) to cut off banking services with RT. UK government connivance is suspected.
At the time of this writing on the morning of Oct. 17, this does not constitute an actual freezing of RT’s funds at the bank, so the funds evidently could be withdrawn and utilized elsewhere. But the decision did come without a hint of explanation as to why RT will no longer be allowed to be a client of the bank. In a terse letter, the bank told RT to take its money elsewhere, the decision is final, and there will be no discussion. And the UK government is a major client of the same banking group.
“We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities,” NatWest said in a letter to RT’s London office. The bank even said that the entire Royal Bank of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is part, would refuse to service RT. The letter said the decision was final and that the bank is “not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it.”
“It appears that . . . we got the first major shot fired by America toward Russia . . . delivered by its always loyal vassal state of the United Kingdom. Russia’s RT television network and media group has seen its bank accounts blocked by the UK,” commented RT editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan in an Oct. 17 Twitter post.
As reported on RT’s website, she added, “Our accounts in the UK have been closed. All accounts. . . . . Long live freedom of speech!”
Writer John Wight told RT: “It seems more than a coincidence that this has taken place at a time when the anti-Russian propaganda has been ramped up to unprecedented levels.”
In his view: “This reflects the extent to which the West is losing the information war. RT plays a key role in challenging the narrative of the West and Western media when it comes to events in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle East.”
RT is not alone in this. Over the years, historical magazine Barnes Review has been targeted by credit card processors, online banks, and other financial entities in an effort to silence the controversial revisionist institution.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, also quoted by RT, said the situation may indicate that “Britain on its way out of the EU [a reference to the successful June 23 Brexit vote for the UK to divorce the EU] abandoned all its commitments to protect freedom of speech.”
RT’s reports on the developing situation come as Syria, having requested and received Russian protection in its fight against ISIS and other terror groups, is portrayed by U.S., UK, and NATO officials, and by most Western media, as being the chief villain of the Middle East.
Yet it’s clear when U.S. warplanes hit an outpost of Syrian troops recently, the attack strengthened the position of the notorious terrorist factions that are trying to sack Syria. U.S. claims that the airstrike was a mistake are widely disbelieved, amid mounting evidence that ISIS and the other terrorist outfits that have killed and maimed tens of thousands of people in Syria since 2011—while spurring a massive migration of war refugees into Europe—are clandestinely backed by Western intelligence agencies which use the terror groups as insurgents and fodder to facilitate Western and Israeli geo-political and military objectives.
RT, which is state-funded but manages to exercise considerable journalistic latitude, has been among the most influential alternative media outlets poking holes in the Western narrative. And since RT reportedly has a large UK viewership, this likely rankles those running the Western war machine who depend on mainstream media to cast Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as evil-incarnate bookends.
As of Oct. 17, Ms. Simonyan told the RBK business news website: “We have no idea why it happened, because neither yesterday nor the day before yesterday, nor a month ago, nothing special happened to us, nobody threatened us in any way. Hypothetically, this may have something to do with new British and American sanctions against Russia, which may be announced soon. It may not. Our legal department is dealing with the issue now.”