Russia says it has launched an investigation into the activities of BBC World News channel and BBC websites over the broadcaster’s “biased” and “unfair” coverage of events in Russia and Syria.
Russia’s media regulator said on Friday it had opened a probe into the activities of the British public broadcaster to see if it “complied with Russian law.”
It explained that the investigating is being carried out in response to decision by British media regulator Ofcom, which accused Russian broadcaster RT of breaking rules in some of its news and current affairs programs.
Ofcom said on Thursday that RT broke broadcasting rules by failing to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programs over a six-week period.
Earlier this year, the British regulator launched a number of investigations to check the output of RT, formerly known as Russia Today.
RT, however, rejected the allegations, saying the British regulator had not paid “due regard” to its broadcasting rights.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that “for a long time questions have accumulated about biased coverage of events by BBC.”
He explained that the “questions” concerned BBC coverage of events in Russia and in Syria, adding that the review could “certainly” be seen as a response to the Ofcom decision.
Moscow has formerly warned to take retaliatory action against British media if the operations of its state news agencies are impeded in the United Kingdom.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote in a post on Facebook that Britain’s actions against RT left Russia with no option but to respond in kind.
“Russia had given warning. Repeatedly,” she said.
She accused the British government of “crude interference in the activities of Russian media (constant propaganda against the RT TV channel, attempts to discredit our journalists, etc).”
In a response to Roskomnadzor decision, the BBC said it “works in Russia in full compliance with the country’s laws and regulations to deliver independent news and information to its audiences.”
Russia has also criticized the BBC for using the “blame Russia” strategy to try to connect Russia to weeks of anti-government protests, known as “yellow vest,” in France.
Russia’s news agency RIA Novosti released a set of screenshots earlier on Sunday, purporting to show a conversation between BBC correspondence Olga Ivshina and a France-based journalist, during which Ivshina was pushing the journalist to find anything linking Russia to the protests, saying that the “editorial board wants blood.”
She was suggesting to the journalist that maybe “some Russian business is making big bucks” on the protests.
Ivshina later admitted that the broadcaster was indeed looking into Russia’s alleged role in the “yellow vest” protests, according to Sputnik.