Germany angry as Russia shuts broadcaster Deutsche Welle

BERLIN, Germany: Germany’s culture minister has condemned Russia’s decision to shut down the Moscow bureau of international public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), saying it was "not acceptable in any way".

All DW Russia’s staff have lost their press accreditations and the channel is barred from broadcasting in Russia.

Russia said it was retaliating after German regulators ruled that a new Russian state-run TV channel, RT DE, did not have a license to operate.

However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that if Germany moved to "normalise the situation", then Russia would, too.

RT is widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin. Germany’s licensing authority said RT had no EU permit enabling it to broadcast. The channel was removed from Europe’s satellite network within days.

Deutsche Welle Director General Peter Limbourg termed the Russian decision to shut down the bureau as an overreaction and "another sign that the Russian government is not interested in press freedom," as quoted by the BBC.

Moscow bureau chief Juri Rescheto said the news that his office would be shut down came as a surprise. "There are a lot of technical and legal questions. So far, we only know we have to give back our press accreditation cards," the BBC reported.

Culture Minister Claudia Roth called on Russia not to "abuse the problems of RT’s license rights for a political reaction".

Other public broadcasters in Germany voiced their support for Deutsche Welle and the German Federation of Journalists called for an immediate lifting of the ban.