31 Mar 2016

Latvia shut down pro-Kremlin website Sputnik

According to the news agency Reuters, Latvian authorities have shut down Russian pro-Kremlin news website Sputnik, drawing an immediate rebuke from Moscow.

The Latvian domain of the Russian-owned news site was shut down by the local domain registry after the foreign ministry said the site could represent a breach of EU sanctions on Russia.

The Russian embassy in Latvia assessed the action as "an information war” on its official Facebook page ".

"This is a groundless blocking of portal by Latvian authorities," the statement says.

The local version of Sputnik news service was launched on Feb. 12, aiming to attract readers among Latvia's large Russian-speaking minority.

Sputnik is a multimedia international project established under the decree of the President of Russia on 9 December 2013. Owned by the Russian government, Sputnik replaced the news agencies Ria Novosti and Voice of Russia in the international arena. This media platform, which is led by Dmitry Kiselyov, planned to broadcast in 30 languages in 130 cities of 34 countries.

In November 2014, Sputnik started illegal radio broadcast in Georgia using the frequency FM 101.4. This frequency belonged to R-Radio LLC. The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) penalized R-Radio LLC and the international news agency Newsgeorgia with 5 000 GEL, in total, for the illegal broadcast and moreover, issued a written warning to R-Radio LLC for the violation of obligations assumed under N B104 licence.

After the imposition of the sanction by the GNCC, Sputnik stopped using radio frequency and switched to the online platform publishing there multimedia materials of anti-Western content.