EU expands Russian media blacklist, says disinformation concerns

The European Council announced the new bans on Friday, prohibiting the Czech-based Voice of Europe portal, the prominent Russian news agency RIA Novosti, and the major newspapers Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta from broadcasting to or engaging EU audiences.

The European Union has escalated its crackdown on Russian media, blacklisting four additional outlets over allegations they spread disinformation and propaganda relating to the war in Ukraine.

The European Council announced the new bans on Friday, prohibiting the Czech-based Voice of Europe portal, the prominent Russian news agency RIA Novosti, and the major newspapers Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta from broadcasting to or engaging EU audiences.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official gazette publishing Russian government laws and decrees, was included on the expanded blacklist, marking a significant broadening of the restrictions.

Brussels had already barred several other Russia-affiliated media organizations from reaching European viewers and readers after the conflict in Ukraine erupted into open warfare in February 2022. Even sharing or platforming content from the targeted outlets is now illegal across the 27-nation bloc.

Critics, however, denounced the bans as an attack on media freedom, arguing they establish a dangerous precedent of censorship by the European Union based on a “disinformation” label determined by the bloc’s authorities.

The dispute has intensified concerns over media clampdowns and the erosion of access to information sources, even from state-affiliated Russian media outlets that could provide an understanding of the Kremlin’s perspective on the conflict.

Defenders of the blacklist counter that outlets like RIA Novosti serve purely as propaganda arms whitewashing Moscow’s military aggression, rather than as legitimate news sources adherent to accepted journalistic norms and ethics.

The EU bans come amid a raging international information war, with both sides of the Ukraine conflict promoting starkly divergent narratives through media campaigns while accusing the other of distortions and manipulation.

As the war grinds on with no diplomatic resolution in sight, the clampdown suggests information flow to European audiences will be further constricted, forgoing primary sources in favour of a domestically-curated portrayal of the hostilities.