Latvia blocks Baltnews portal, citing EU sanctions against Russia ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Latvia, which pursuant to Latvian law manages the top level domain .lv, has blocked access to the online portal baltnews.lv. The decision to block the portal was made based on a memo from the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which referred to EU sanctions.

Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs' spokesperson Mārtiņš Drēģeris told LETA that on July 23, the ministry sent the institute a letter stating that registered as the owner of baltnews.lv was Russian news agency Rossiya Sevodnya, which is directed by Dmitry Kiselyov, an individual sanctioned by the EU, reported Public Broadcasting of Latvia (LSM).

In its letter, the foreign ministry referred to EU documents regarding sanctions that were imposed by the EU following Russia's annexation of Crimea and Moscow's activity in Donbass.

Kiselyov, a known media figure in Russia, is included on the list of persons sanctioned by the EU for actions undermining Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. The head of Rossiya Segodnya has been described in EU documents as a central figure of Russian state propaganda.

The Latvian ministry explained in its letter that in accordance with Latvian sanctions legislation, EU regulations regarding sanctions are binding for Latvia. The domain name baltnews.lv is a commercial project whose owner is a legal entity targeted by EU sanctions, Drēģeris stressed.

As early as 2017, investigative journalist group Re:Baltica reported that the Baltnews online portals operating in the Baltic states are run by the Russian state via a corporate scheme.

Kõlvart, Helme giving interview to Baltnews

Estonia has not taken any similar steps. This year, both Tallinn Mayor and Centre Party member Mihhail Kõlvart (link in Estonian) and Minister of the Interior and Conservative People's Party chairman Mart Helme (link in Russian) have given exclusive interviews to Baltnews.ee.

As recently as Thursday, Helme also told Baltnews.ee (link in Russian) that "no union has proven to last forever" and that "the EU is not everlasting either."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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