Russian News Agency RT Says British Bank Suddenly Blocked Its Accounts

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group has refused service to Russian media organization RT, formerly known as “Russia Today.”

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-owned network, claimed on Twitter Monday that National Westminster Bank, known as NatWest, had refused service to the network.

“They’ve closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. ‘The decision is not subject to review.’ Praise be to freedom of speech!” Simonyan tweeted, as translated by the BBC.

The BBC reported that RT received notice from NatWest, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, that they were no longer customers of the bank, and that the news agency had until December 12, when its accounts would be liquidated and a check issued for their value, to transfer them elsewhere.

“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 the network.

The Guardian reported Monday morning that, “after several hours of confusion,” the British treasury had denied any involvement with NatWest’s decision.

“This isn’t something that has come out of the Treasury,” one unnamed source insisted to the Guardian. “The U.K. government had not introduced any fresh sanctions or ‘obligations’ against Russia since February 2015.”

That didn’t stop a wave of Russian politicians from condemning the move, accusing the U.K. of hypocritical free speech standards.

“They haven’t explained the reasons and I think they can’t explain them because there can’t be any reasons,” Simonyan told Russian state media, according to BBC. “We have an absolutely transparent operation there, absolutely transparent funding. There have never been any complaints in this regard at all.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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