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U.K. Media Watchdog Fines Russia's RT For Breaking Impartiality Rules

Russia - The Russian television channel RT (Russia Today) logo, undated

Britain’s media regulator has fined Russia’s RT 200,000 pounds ($248,740) for violating broadcasting regulations, a move Russia’s Foreign Ministry called part of “an anti-Russian campaign.”

Britain’s media regulator, known as Ofcom, cited the Russia-funded broadcaster on July 26 for breaking impartiality rules in its coverage of former spy Sergei Skripal, the policies of Ukraine, and the conflict in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned British media operating in Russia that they should be ready to face consequences.

Relations between London and Moscow plunged after the March 2018 nerve-agent attack on Skripal. The former Russian spy and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with Novichok -- a military-grade chemical weapon developed in the Soviet Union.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any Russian role in the incident.

Ofcom said the fine related to RT news and current affairs programs broadcast between March 17 and April 26 dealing with issues including the Skripal poisoning, the conflict in Syria, and the Ukrainian government’s position on Nazism and its treatment of Roma.

In its statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it regarded Ofcom's actions as "part of an anti-Russian campaign designed to restrict the activities of Russian media in Britain."

"We are carefully following the situation and remind British media working in Russia that they should be ready to face the consequences of official London's actions," it said.

RT said the fine was wrong.

Critics say RT, which broadcasts news in English, Arabic and Spanish, is a propaganda arm of the Russian state.

Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and the BBC