Latvia has banned Russia's RT television channels from being distributed on its territory because of international sanctions against the head of the Russian state TV network, Dmitry Kiselyov.
Latvia's media watchdog, the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP), said it had banned RT's main English-language broadcast service, its Spanish and Arabic counterparts, the RT Documentary channel, as well as the HD versions of the programs. RT has no other stations that broadcast in the Baltic country.
"These TV stations have been banned because they are controlled and managed by Dmitry Kiselyov, who is under European Union sanctions for repeated calls to violate Ukraine's democracy and territorial integrity," NEPLP Chairman Ivars Abolins said on June 30.
The NEPLP also said RT attempted in its programs to present Latvia, a Baltic state that gained independence after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, as a failed state.
Last year, the NEPLP banned 10 other Russian television channels, including Rossia RTR, for "systematic hate speech and warmongering against Ukraine, including open calls to kill Ukrainian citizens."
The NEPLP said in a statement that the decision would be implemented this week.
Meanwhile, Kiselyov, a TV commentator known for anti-Western diatribes, said on June 30 that he had never been in charge of RT, which used to be known as Russia Today, and suggested that Latvia should apologize to the channel and cancel the move.
Kiselyov has been on the EU sanctions list for his alleged role in promoting Kremlin propaganda in support of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Kiselyov is the head of the state Rossia Segodnya media group, which focuses mainly on Russian news and official propaganda abroad.
The group includes, along with other television channels, RT, radio stations and websites, the Sputnik news service, Prime news agency, and the Inosmi.ru media project.
Kiselyov's media group is among the top 10 state-subsidized groups in Russia. It received 20.4 billion rubles (more than $288 million) from the state from 2018 to 2020.