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Kremlin condemns 'absurdity' as Britain bars Russian media from conference on press freedom

File photo of Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Moscow, Russia Jul 09, 2019, 05.10 PM (IST)

The Kremlin on Tuesday said it regretted that Russia's RT and Sputnik news organisations were barred from taking part in a global conference on media freedom in London, calling the decision absurd.

Britain on Monday said it refused to accredit the Russian state media outlets "because of their active role in spreading disinformation." 

Some 60 ministers and 1,000 journalists and members of civil society are expected to attend the meeting on Wednesday and Thursday co-hosted with Canada. 

"There can be no conference about the freedom of the press when journalists are barred from taking part in it," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

He mocked what he called "the absurdity of what is happening."

"We can only regret this," he added. 

The Russian embassy in London previously condemned the decision relating to RT as "direct politically motivated discrimination" and said it had complained to the Foreign Office.

RT said in a statement that "it takes a particular brand of hypocrisy to advocate for freedom of the press while banning inconvenient voices and slandering alternative media."

In December, British media regulator Ofcom found RT had broken impartiality rules in several programmes broadcast after the nerve agent attack in the city of Salisbury.

Moscow has denied claims by London that it approved the attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March last year. 

Organisers of the London conference say it is intended to increase international discussion and cooperation on the issue of media freedom, including fake news.

A spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said journalists from other Russian news organisations will attend the conference. 

Story highlights

Britain on Monday said it refused to accredit the Russian state media outlets 'because of their active role in spreading disinformation.'