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Kremlin Slams Global Media Freedom Conference for Denying Accreditation to Sputnik, RT

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The Global Conference for Media Freedom in London earlier denied accreditation for the Sputnik news agency, as well as RT, without providing any explanation for this decision. The officials later accused the media outlets of "spreading of disinformation".

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement Tuesday that Russia gives London 24 hours to provide specific facts on the basis of which the RT broadcaster and Sputnik news agency were recently denied accreditation to the Global Conference for Media Freedom.

"Apparently, London intends to resort to the concept of 'strategic ambiguity' voiced by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, making accusations and without presenting facts. Such an approach is unacceptable. We demand that official London provide concrete facts within 24 hours, on the basis of which the corresponding statement was made," Zakharova said.

"Otherwise, we will regard the voiced accusations as slander, denigrating the business reputation of the Russian media, a vivid example of the spread of 'fake news' and disinformation," she said.

Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has criticised the conference for denying accreditation for Russian journalists, calling the whole situation absurd.

"This may be, let me say, a quasi-conference. There cannot be any serious discussion of media freedom when journalists are denied accreditation. I believe this is the brightest illustration of how absurd the things that happen are. Moreover, unfortunately, this absurdity has become regular and chronic in some countries, including the country hosting this event. We can only regret this", Peskov told reporters.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian lower house of Parliament, supported Peskov, accusing the UK government of pursuing a policy of double standards.

"It is necessary to assume that double standards have now become absolutely obvious in US policy toward media, in UK policy and in other countries' policies", Volodin stated.

He stressed that restrictions against Sputnik contradicted "all the basic rights and freedoms".

"All the previously reached agreements stipulate that we have to guarantee the freedom of speech and information disclosure. Our country has always done it and has always emphasised it in its policies. However, as you can see, some countries believe they don't have to comply with international rules, but they are wrong", Volodin added.

In the meantime, Editor-in-chief of Sputnik and RT Margarita Simonyan has also slammed the British authorities over the controversial move.

"The UK Foreign Office on why they did not let us attend the conference on speech freedom in London: 'We have not accredited RT and Sputnik because of their active role in spreading disinformation’. Of course, they have not cited a single example of that disinformation", she said in her blog on Telegram.

Simonyan also recalled how London "sheepishly cleared the post on the Russian origin of the substance used to poison the Skripals".

"Or how the BBC had been trying to find 'Russian traces' — at least some, any at all — when the yellow vests were protesting in Paris”, she added.

The conference will be held in London on 10-11 July.

Russian media outlets have faced numerous attacks over the past several years, including a 2016 resolution by the European Parliament which claimed that RT and Sputnik were major threats to the bloc.

Some politicians from the EU and the US have accused Russian journalists of interfering in other countries' affairs, but they have not provided any proof. Moscow, for its part, has stressed that the allegations are baseless and absolutely politically motivated.

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