NatWest freeze RT's British bank accounts

Other | Monday 17th October 2016 | Arren

The Kremlin backed news outlet has had it's bank account frozen by NatWest.

The Russian-backed broadcaster, RT are having their UK branches bank accounts frozen by NatWest. In a letter they received from the bank, RT were told that all their accounts will be frozen and closed by December this year - and the decision is final.

RT say the decision has come out of the blue, and gives no explanation why NatWest are freezing the accounts. The Royal Band of Scotland Group, of which NatWest is part of, would also refuse to serve RT at any point in the future.

The Russian broadcasters's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan tweeted; "They've closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. 'The decision is not subject to review.' Praise be to freedom of speech!"

The letter, that has been posted online, shows the accounts aren't frozen just yet - though all banking facilities will be 'cancelled and closed' by the 12th December. The media group have called this an attack on freedom of speech; "They have failed to defeat us by simply vilifying us, by picking on our broadcast, so they decided to try the banking flank: 'Try broadcasting when all your accounts have been closed.' Yet we will try."

RT UK have blamed the British Government for the out-of-the-blue move. They point out that NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland Group have a significant shareholding from the UK Government, though the Treasury has denied any involvement.

The reaction is Russia hasn't been a positive one - with many Russian officials seeing this as a direct attack on their country. One of Russian parliament's upper house members, Igor Morozov, has called for the BBC's bank accounts in Russia to be 'arrested' as a reprisal, while MP Sergei Zheleznyak told the Interfax news agency 'We will be demanding an explanation from Britain's official authorities in connection with this situation'.

The Russian broadcasting company, known for speaking out against the actions of the UK and US governments and reporting topics from a Russian perspective, hasn't had to find its story today - it landed through their post-box this morning. What this means for UK / Russian relations is yet to be seen, though doesn't come at a good time.