Russia protests charges against state media journalists in Latvia

VILNIUS (Reuters) – Russia protested on Friday after Latvia charged several journalists from the Rossiya Segodnya news agency with violating European Union sanctions.

The journalists were charged because of their association with Dmitry Kiselyov, who heads Rossiya Segodnya, said Sputnik Latvia, a subsidiary of Rossiya Segodnya.

The Kremlin media mogul was sanctioned by the EU for his role in Russia’s seizure of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Dmitry Peskov wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listens during Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow

FILE PHOTO: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov listens during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow

“We consider such actions of intimidation against journalists unacceptable”, Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, was quoted as saying by Baltnews, another Rossiya Segodnya outlet.

“We count on a prompt and tough response from the relevant international organisations”.

Latvia’s counter-intelligence State Security Service said on Friday it had initiated “court-sanctioned proceedings” against seven unnamed people for alleged violation of EU sanctions.

Rossiya Segodnya said it intended to ask international and European organisations to react “to actions by the Latvian government against journalists” which it said violated freedom of speech.

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The Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which were dominated by Moscow in the Soviet era but are now members of NATO and the EU, worry that their Russian-speaking minorities can be influenced by state-owned Russian media.

In June, Latvia and Lithuania took Russian broadcaster RT off the air, calling its channels “propaganda” and citing its ties to Kiselyov.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas, additional reporting by Alexander Marrow, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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