© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man sits inside the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) broadcasting centre in Toronto May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
LONDON (Reuters) -Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was closing the Moscow bureau of Canada’s CBC and withdrawing visas and accreditation from the public broadcaster’s journalists after Ottawa banned Russian state TV station Russia Today.
“With regret we continue to notice open attacks on the Russian media from the countries of the so-called collective West who call themselves civilised,” Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, told reporters.
“A decision has been taken to make retaliatory, I underscore retaliatory, measures in relation to the actions of Canada: the closure of the Moscow bureau of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, including the annulation of the accreditations and visas of their journalists.”
CBC’s Moscow bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Zakharova said Ottawa had chosen what she cast as a “Russophobic” path including censorship of the media.
Canada on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Senate that will ban President Vladimir Putin and around 1,000 members of his government and military from entering the country as it continues to ratchet up sanctions over Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
In March, Putin signed a law imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally “fake” news about the military, prompting some Western media organisations to pull their reporters out of Russia.
Russian officials do not use the word “invasion” and say Western media have provided an excessively partial narrative of the war in Ukraine that ignores Russia’s concerns about the enlargement of NATO and alleged persecution of Russian-speakers.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly scolded the West for what he says is an undemocratic crackdown on Russian state media organisations which he says provided an alternative to Western narratives.
Putin casts the war as an inevitable confrontation with the United States, which he accuses of threatening Russia by meddling in its backyard and enlarging the NATO military alliance.
Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style land grab and that Putin’s claims of genocide and persecution of Russian-speakers are nonsense.