Spain’s RTVE and EFE suspend reporting in Russia

Spanish news agency EFE and public broadcaster Radio Televisión Española (RTVE) said Saturday they were suspending their reporting activities in Russia after Moscow moved to impose jail terms on media publishing "false information" about the military.

A man walks as a police car patrols at Red Square in Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill introducing jail terms of up to 15 years for "fake news" about the army. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

“The EFE agency decided to temporarily suspend its reporting activity in Russia from today,” the agency said on its website, citing the new law.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law a bill introducing jail terms of up to 15 years for “fake news” about the army.

He also signed a bill that would allow fines or jail terms of up to three years for calling for sanctions against Russia.

“It’s the first time since 1970, the date EFE opened its permanent office in Moscow, that the agency sees itself forced to suspend the work of its journalists accredited in the Russian capital,” the news agency said.

“The EFE agency deeply regrets this serious attack on freedom of expression, an obvious attempt by the Kremlin to hide the truth from public opinion,” EFE President Gabriela Canas said.

RTVE on Saturday also announced it would “temporarily” stop reporting from Russia due to the same law.

Foreign media including the UK’s BBC, Canada’s CBC/Radio-Canada, Germany’s ARD and ZDF, Bloomberg News, US channels CNN and CBS and Italian broadcaster RAI have all taken similar steps.


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Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.