MOSCOW (Reuters) - Twitter’s ban on adverts from Russian media was motivated by Washington’s “deep prejudices” against Moscow and was setting a worrying precedent for the company to treat its clients unequally, the Kremlin said on Friday.
Twitter Inc on Thursday accused Russian media outlets Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and banned them from buying ads on its network, after criticism in the United States that the social network had not done enough to deter international meddling.
“We regret this. We regret that, first and foremost, this company (Twitter) is most probably falling victim to deep prejudices about our mass media,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
“We also regret that the company is actually creating a precedent of unequal treatment of its clients which ... is likely to alarm and worry other users of this network.”
In April, Reuters reported that RT and Sputnik were part of a plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to swing the U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, according to three current and four former U.S. officials.
The Kremlin has strongly denied U.S. accusations of meddling in the polls.
“We still hope that in the end the company will deem it necessary to analyse this situation in detail and in the end will come to a conclusion that the work of free mass media, which RT and Sputnik are certainly part of, should in no way be qualified as meddling in the electoral process of the U.S.A. or any other country,” Peskov said.
He also said that possible new U.S. sanctions against Russia were a cause for concern and a reflection of Washington’s “unfriendly and even hostile attitude towards our country”.
The U.S. State Department said on Thursday it had belatedly begun informing Congress and others about groups associated with the Russian intelligence and defence sectors as required under a 2017 law tightening sanctions on Russia.
Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Richard Balmforth