Russia-Backed RT America Shutters After ‘Unforeseen Business Interruption Events’

The Russia Today America logo is seen on a portable mobile device in this photo illustration on January 22, 2019. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Russia-backed news outlet RT America reportedly ceased productions and laid off most of its staff, according to a memo from T&R Productions, the production company behind the Russian state-funded network, obtained by CNN on Thursday.

In a memo to staff, Misha Solodovnikov, the general manager of T&R Productions, reportedly said that the Russia-backed outlet will be “ceasing production” at all of its locations “as a result of unforeseen business interruption events.”

“Unfortunately, we anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R employees at all locations,” Solodovnikov wrote, according to CNN.

T&R Productions operated offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. It also operates multiple networks worldwide.

The development marks an effective end to RT America, which served as a mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the U.S. The shuttering of RT America follows news of the network being dropped by major satellite carrier DirecTV earlier this week. Roku, which was one of two television providers that carried the outlet, also joined DirecTV in booting RT America from its global platform this week.

In recent days, RT’s reach has significantly decreased as a result of technology companies and television providers cutting ties with the Russia-backed outlet in light of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Internal turmoil also emerged within RT, with several employees in RT’s various networks announcing their resignations.

In an email obtained by CNN, RT America employees based in the outlet’s Washington, D.C. bureau were informed on Wednesday that an all-staff meeting was scheduled on Thursday afternoon.

Solodovnikov officially announced the ceasing of RT America’s operations to staffers in person during the Thursday afternoon meeting.

An attendee told CNN that the meeting lasted “about two minutes,” with Solodovnikov informing staff that they would be given two months worth of severance pay.

Another attendee reportedly described the meeting as “somber,” with many staffers “shocked” and “crying.’

RT America previously registered as an agent of a foreign government with the Justice Department in 2017, following years of accusations that the outlet served as a propaganda arm of the Russian government.

The DOJ directed RT to register as a foreign agent partly because of an intelligence community report that alleged the outlet aided Moscow’s effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

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