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BBC World News taken off air in Russia, broadcaster says

It comes after the Russian parliament approved strict new media legislation on Friday.

06 March 2022

BBC World News has been taken off air in Russia, the broadcaster has said.

Russian authorities have been restricting access to foreign and independent media outlets, including the main BBC websites, in recent days as the invasion of Ukraine continues.

On Friday, its parliament approved a law making it a criminal offence punishable by up to 15 years in prison to spread “fake” or “false” news about the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, prompting the BBC to temporarily suspend the work of all its news journalists and support staff in Russia.

BBC World News presenter Victoria Derbyshire was the first to announce the channel’s suspension.

She told viewers shortly before midday on Sunday: “BBC World News, the channel you are watching if you are outside the UK right now, and which is the BBC’s global television news channel, has just been taken off air in Russia.”

The BBC press office has been contacted for further comment.

Since the Russian invasion began last month, the broadcaster has made efforts to ensure people inside Russia and Ukraine have access to its news output.

Both its Ukrainian and Russian language services are available on the dark web through the Tor network, a privacy-focused software, and the corporation has also brought back its shortwave radio service in a bid to thwart censorship attempts.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova previously accused the BBC of playing “a determined role in undermining the Russian stability and security”.

In the UK, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has opened 27 investigations into the “due impartiality” of programmes broadcast on the Kremlin-backed RT news channel, formerly known as Russia Today.

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