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Threats over freedom of speech

RBS denies closing Russian bank account

RBS hqRoyal Bank of Scotland has denied that it has frozen the UK bank account of a Russian broadcaster.

RBS said that none of RT’s accounts had been closed, stating that a widely-published letter from its NatWest subsidiary, related to another company, believed to be a supplier.

RT, formerly Russia Today, had accused the bank of restricting its freedom of speech. The issue threatened to escalate into a diplomatic row with Russia threatening sanctions against the BBC.

RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Twitter account: “They closed our accounts in Britain. All of them. ‘Decision not to be discussed’. Long live freedom of speech!”

In a post on Facebook, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Britain on its way out of the EU abandoned all its commitments to protect the freedom of speech.”
Moscow threatened to freeze the BBC’s assets in Russia in retaliation for the alleged action by RBS which is 70% owned by the British taxpayer.
It follows Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s call for demonstrations outside the Russian embassy over its bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Prime Minister Theresa May resisted being drawn into the dispute by saying it was a matter for the bank.
RBS insisted that RT’s bank account was still open and commentators were sceptical of claims in The Times that RBS had ‘caved in’.

Last night RBS said: “These decisions are not taken lightly. We are reviewing the situation and are contacting the customer to discuss this further.

“The bank accounts remain open and are still operative.”

NatWest’s letter, which RT published on its websitet with the customer name blanked out, said: “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.

“We assure you that we have reached this decision after careful consideration, however our decision is final and we are not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it.”

 



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