Friday May 14th 2021
Also the Czech Republic on the list
Moscow classifies the USA as “unfriendly”
Russia creates a new list of “unfriendly foreign states” with exactly two countries: the Czech Republic and the USA. The relationship is extremely tense anyway. But Moscow goes one better – and blocks the accounts of a US-funded radio station.
Amid mounting tensions with the West, Russia has put the US and the Czech Republic on its list of “unfriendly” countries. This can be seen from the updated list of countries. There are no other states on the list. It goes back to an order from Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.
According to this, the Czech embassy in Moscow is only allowed to employ a maximum of 19 Russian citizens, the US embassy none at all. The Russian Foreign Ministry had already imposed these punitive measures against the representations of both countries – in the course of the recent mutual expulsion of diplomats.
The Czech Foreign Ministry condemned Russia’s actions as “a further step towards escalating relations not only with the Czech Republic, but with the entire EU”. Russia chose the “path of confrontation”, but it was damaging itself. The decision was completely in contradiction to the Vienna Agreement on Diplomatic Relations. It has negative effects on tourism, trade and contacts between the citizens of both countries.
EU Council President Charles Michel also spoke of a further step in the escalation that undermines diplomatic relations and called on Russia to fully adhere to the Vienna Agreement. “Attempts to split the EU are in vain. Full solidarity with the Czech Republic,” wrote Michel on Twitter.
A violent dispute is currently raging between the Czech Republic and Russia. The Czech Republic blamed Russian intelligence services for explosions in an ammunition dump in the east of the country in 2014, Moscow denied all allegations. After the bilateral expulsions of diplomats, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also expelled Russian diplomats out of solidarity with the government in Prague, and the governments in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia also backed Prague.
Relations between Washington and Moscow are also extremely tense, with both sides imposing sanctions on each other. The US expelled ten Russian diplomats in April and imposed new sanctions on Moscow because of alleged Russian interference in the presidential election campaign and because of a hacker attack, which was also blamed on Russia. In response, Russia for its part expelled ten US diplomats from the country and imposed entry bans on several representatives of the US government.
“Trying to suppress independent media”
After Biden answered yes to the question of whether he considered Putin to be a “murderer” in an interview with the broadcaster ABC News, Russia temporarily recalled its ambassador from the USA. The US Ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, later returned to Washington for consultations.
The US-funded radio station Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe announced meanwhile that its bank accounts in Russia had been blocked after bailiffs had visited the offices in Moscow for unpaid fines. The broadcaster has to pay a fine of around 780,000 euros. The State Department in Washington said it was “deeply disturbed” by the account freezes. “This is Russia’s latest attempt to suppress independent media,” said a ministry spokeswoman. The Russian population “deserves access to a wide range of information and opinions”.
In addition, the independent online journal “Wtimes” was classified as a “foreign agent” in Russia. The Ministry of Justice justified the move by stating that the journal was registered in the Netherlands. This severely restricts the working methods of the editorial team and the financing of “Wtimes”, at the same time threatening high fines. “Wtimes” was founded last year by former editors of the business newspaper “Vedomosti” who quit after the appointment of a Kremlin-friendly editor-in-chief.
A month ago the well-known online medium “Medusa” was classified as a “foreign agent” because the Russian-language website is registered in Latvia. Advertising revenues have since declined so badly that the journal has had to seek financial support from its readership.