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UK regulator revokes license of Russia-backed broadcaster RT

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s communications regulator on Friday revoked the license of the state-funded Russian broadcaster RT amid concern that its coverage of the war in Ukraine was biased.

The decision comes as the regulator, Ofcom, conducts 29 investigations into the impartiality of RT’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The volume and nature of the issues raised by these inquiries are of “great concern,” the regulator said, particularly because RT had been fined 200,000 pounds for previous violations of impartiality standards.

RT’s funding from the Russian state, as well as the fact that Russia invaded its smaller neighbor, were also part of the decision, Ofcom said.

As a result, Ofcom ruled that RT’s parent company, ANO TV Novosti, isn’t “fit and proper to hold a U.K. broadcast license.” The move is largely symbolic, as the broadcaster is already off the air due to sanctions imposed by the European Union.

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“We also note new laws in Russia which effectively criminalise any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state’s own news narrative, in particular in relation to the invasion of Ukraine,” the regulator said in a statement. “We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances.’’

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RT said in a statement that the regulator had robbed the U.K. public of access to information and ignored its “clean record″ of four consecutive years.

RT deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina said that with its decision Ofcom “has shown the U.K. public, and the regulatory community internationally, that despite a well-constructed facade of independence, it is nothing more than a tool of government, bending to its media-suppressing will.”

Government minister James Heappey said Ofcom’s decision was “very welcome.” But he stressed that “it was the regulator that took the choice rather than government.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American man was killed in a Russian attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, where he was seeking medical treatment for his partner. The death of Jim Hill was reported Thursday by his sister.

“My brother Jimmy Hill was killed yesterday in Chernihiv, Ukraine. He was waiting in a bread line with several other people when they were gunned down” by Russian military forces, his sister, Cheryl Hill Gordon, wrote on Facebook. “His body was found in the street by the local police.”

Ukrainian officials reported that 10 people were killed Wednesday in Chernihiv while standing in the bread line.

Chernihiv police and the U.S. State Department confirmed the death of an American but did not identify him. Hill was at least the second U.S. citizen to be killed in the conflict, after the killing of journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud last week.

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In poignant posts on Facebook in the weeks before his death, Hill described “indiscriminate bombing” in a city under siege and joked about wanting to appear “feeble-minded” if captured by the Russians.

Under a photo of himself he wrote on March 8: “me unshaven for 10 days. I am actually trying to look as old and feeble-minded (not hard) as possible in case they catch me. I am working on my Rainman accent ‘Oh Boy’…”

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Hill, a native of Eveleth, Minnesota, who was living in Driggs, Idaho, identified himself as a lecturer at universities in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and Warsaw, Poland. He said he was in Chernihiv with his partner for her to receive medical treatment.

“We are staying on 3rd floor in Hospital. Most patients in basement bomb shelter. But cold down there and no internet,” he wrote on Feb. 26, two days after the invasion began.

Four days later, he said: “Nobody in Chernihiv is safe. Indiscriminate bombing. … Ukrainian forces hold city but are surrounded. It’s a siege here. Nobody in. Nobody out.”

At least 53 people had been brought to morgues over the past 24 hours, killed during heavy Russian air attacks and ground fire in Chernihiv, the local governor, Viacheslav Chaus, told Ukrainian TV on Thursday.

The decision comes as the regulator, Ofcom, conducts 29 investigations into the impartiality of RT’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The volume and nature of the issues raised by these inquiries are of “great concern,” the regulator said, particularly because RT had been fined 200,000 pounds for previous violations of impartiality standards.

RT’s funding from the Russian state, as well as the fact that Russia invaded its smaller neighbor, were also part of the decision, Ofcom said.

As a result, Ofcom ruled that RT’s parent company, ANO TV Novosti, isn’t “fit and proper to hold a U.K. broadcast license.” The move is largely symbolic, as the broadcaster is already off the air due to sanctions imposed by the European Union.

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