A Russian official has criticized suggestions by several European Union nations, including Lithuania, to form a consistent pan-EU effort to counter Russia's propaganda campaign.
Russian foreign ministry
© RIA/Scanpix

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov accused such efforts of running counter to the freedom of speech.

"We’ve always taken a positive position on the freedom of speech. But the EU plans for creating a kind of counter-propaganda channel can hardly correspond to the concept of freedom of speech," Meshkov told Russian news agency TASS on Monday.

The foreign ministers of Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Estonia sent a joint letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini saying the upcoming ministerial meeting, slated for January 19, would focus on strengthening strategic communications inside the EU and outside it.

The four foreign ministers warned that "Russia is rapidly increasing its disinformation and propaganda campaign," which seeks to secure support to "political and military aims of the Russian government".

In a letter to the EU's foreign policy chief Mogherini, the ministers called for "credible and competitive information alternatives for Russian-speaking populations and those using Russia's state-controlled media".

They suggested that Russian propaganda should be discussed at the meeting of EU ministers early in 2015 and invited European External Action Service to work out an action plan for 2015-2016.

Linas Linkevičius, the Lithuanian diplomacy chief behind the initiative, told BNS last Friday that the ministers "do not propose censorship or bans, they only want conditions for truly impartial, free and alternative sources of information".

In his words, Russia is earmarking billions to the state-controlled media, therefore, "the society's immunity to manipulations should be a major concern".

In the letter to Brussels, the four diplomats called for a platform that would provide information about the propaganda lies and manipulations, support initiatives to create Russian-language television channels, Internet portals, radios and press, encourage exchange of production within the EU and propose the production to the existing Russian media.

The ministers also said that the EU should pay more attention to impartial provision of information and transparency of interests, as well as prevent instigation of hatred, violence and war propaganda. To achieve this, the four chief diplomats suggested encouraging closer cooperation among EU media regulatory authorities.

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