MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s state communications regulator said on Thursday the BBC had published material that propagated the ideas of a terrorist group and that it was investigating whether the British public broadcaster had broken Russian law.
Russia said last month it was launching an investigation into the BBC in response to pressure it said London was applying on a Kremlin-funded broadcaster’s operations in Britain.
The broadcasters have been drawn into a bitter row between London and Moscow that erupted last year over the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. Britain said Russian secret agents made a botched attempt to assassinate Skripal using a military-grade nerve agent, an allegation Russia denied.
“Checks are underway into whether the BBC’s internet sites… comply with Russian law. To date, material has been uncovered which transmits the ideological principles of a terrorist group (quotes of the terrorist al-Baghdadi),” the regulator said in a statement.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the leader of Islamic State. The group is outlawed in Russia.
“An investigation is underway into whether these materials are in compliance with the norms of Russian legislation,” the regulator’s statement said.
When the Russian investigation was initially announced last month, the BBC said it was in full compliance with Russian law. The broadcaster has a sizeable Russian-language operation, based in Moscow and London.
(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Osborn)