LONDON – Russian broadcaster RT on Monday accused Britain’s NatWest bank of shutting down its accounts without explanation.
The editor of the government-funded television channel, Margarita Simonyan, tweeted: “They’ve closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. ‘The decision is not subject to review.’ Praise be to freedom of speech!”
RT, formerly known as Russia Today, published what appears to be a letter from NatWest informing the broadcaster that “we have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.”
Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which owns NatWest, had no immediate comment. Neither did Britain’s Treasury.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on Facebook: “Looks like, while leaving the EU, London has left all its freedom of speech obligations there.”
On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he wanted to increase pressure on Russia over its military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss ways of ending the violence in Syria, Johnson said the West should use the diplomatic tools at its disposal “to make President Putin and the Russians feel the consequences of what they are doing.”
RT has been chastised by Britain’s broadcast regulator for breaches of the U.K.’s broadcasting code, including a story alleging the BBC staged a chemical weapons attack in Syria.