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Lithuania follows Latvia in banning Russian broadcaster RT

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Russian state-owned television station RT logo is seen at the window of the company's office in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
Russian state-owned television station RT logo is seen at the window of the company's office in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.   -   Copyright  Pavel Golovkin/AP Photo, FILE
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A Lithuanian government media commission banned the broadcasts of a state-controlled Russian television network this week.

It comes after neighbouring state Latvia announced it would ban the seven RT channels last week.

RT broadcasts in multiple languages and provides Kremlin-friendly news, Lithuania's media commission said.

The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission said the decision was made due in part to the network's alleged control by Dmitry Kiselyov who was sanctioned by the European Union in 2014 for his "propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine."

Latvia's mass media council said in a statement that Kiselyov was now in charge of RT after a decree was signed by Vladimir Putin.

The head of RT Margarita Simonyan mocked Latvia's information: "Latvian intelligence believes that RT is headed by Dmitry Kiselev...we are not afraid of such intelligence."

"Russia Today has long been threatened with sanctions in different countries," said Dr Sergey Radchenko, director of research at Cardiff University's School of Law and Politics. It has already been banned in Ukraine and forced to register as a foreign agent in the United States, for instance.

But in his view, "by banning the outlet, one only imparts to it an aura of martyrdom that it does not deserve."

The decision applies to RT, RT HD, RT Spanish, RT Documentary and RT Documentary HD television programs transmitted on the internet in the country.

The seven programmes "in the opinion of Latvian security authorities are most influential Russian propaganda channels in the West Europe," the National Electronic Mass Media Council of Latvia said in a statement.

"We expect that a similar decision will be made by other European Union member states,” said the mass media council chairperson Ivars Āboliņš.

RT is widely seen in the Baltic states as a Kremlin propaganda tool aiming to influence the region’s ethnic Russian minority, according to AP.

This article has been updated to add comments from an expert.