Banned in Europe, Kremlin-backed RT channel to set up hub in South Africa

Banned in Europe, Kremlin-backed RT channel  to set up hub in South Africa
Photo by Misha Friedman / Getty Images

RT is setting up an Africa English language hub in South Africa. An earlier African plan had focused on a Nairobi office.

RT, the Kremlin-backed TV network formerly called Russia Today, is setting up its first Africa bureau as President Vladimir Putin seeks to entrench support in a continent that’s largely refrained from criticising his invasion of Ukraine. 

The company said in a response to a query that it’s “currently focused on developing our English-language Africa hub in South Africa”, which will be headed up by Paula Slier, a South African broadcaster who ran RT’s Jerusalem bureau.

The entry into Africa contrasts with bans on RT put in place by the European Union, the UK and Canada shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time that RT and Sputnik, another Russian broadcaster, “would no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union”. RT countered in a June court appeal that the EU was illegally silencing its journalists.

MultiChoice Group, Africa’s biggest pay-TV provider, halted RT’s channel after EU sanctions stopped a global distributor from providing the broadcast.

Providing RT’s services in Africa would add to a concerted media and social-media campaign by Russian diplomats on the continent to counter accusations from Europe and the US that Russia’s invasion is unjustified and driving up global food and fuel prices.

Slier, a former employee of the SABC, began running RT’s Middle East Bureau in 2005, according to her website.

In a March column for Eyewitness News, Slier defended the channel and said it had never hidden that it represented the point of view of the government. Slier said that while she was “conflicted” by the invasion, most Russians supported it and assumptions by the country’s opponents that they were misinformed by state media is “unfair and, frankly, insulting”.

The West doesn’t get it – Russians aren’t ‘zombified’, and most of them are pro-Putin

The operation in South Africa appears to be a pivot from an earlier plan, before the war, to establish an African hub in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. In an advert on 10 February advert on RT’s website, the network said it planned to set up an office in the city and was seeking to hire journalists. RT didn’t respond to a query about its plans for Kenya.

An Africa operation will put RT into competition with other government-backed broadcasters such as the British Broadcasting Corp. and China Global Television Network. DM/Bloomberg 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Antony Goedhals says:

    We must protest this unless we want to allow the dystopian seeds of dark Kremlin fantasy to be scattered on African soil. It is shameful that the SA Government has not stood up with the rest of the civilized world against Russia’s aggressive WAR against Ukraine. You get 3-8 years for murder in Russia, but 15 for speaking the truth. Is this what we want? No, I say!

  • Peter Underwood says:

    Bravo – I have missed RT in UK although we can still get it on the internet, we don’t get great programmes like ‘Renegade’, an excellent economics slot. Well done SA to keep journalism from censorship and cancel culture which is ruining so much of the West.

    We are still mulling returning the Simons Town but will wait until after the elections to see if a majority of the great people of SA will come to their senses, failing which I feel that the future is as bleak as UK for the rest of the decade.
    Google: “Austrian Peter Substack” – to get the real news from Great Britain.

    • René Naegeli says:

      RT has nothing to do with journalism but all with government propaganda agency. Russia has started a war in Europe, is occupying Ukraine territory, killing innocent civilians and destroying villages and cities.
      RT is nothing else then a governmental disinformation hub for a bloody dictatorship.

    • Graeme de Villiers says:

      Chris Waldberger as a contributor says about all I need.
      Yet another tinfoil hatted asylum escapee roaming the streets, spreading the “truth”.
      Hilarious in its entirety

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      Don’t come back. Stay in the UK. You are part of the problem. Spreading opinions from a great distance. You’ve made a choice. You fell on the side of the fence where you felt the grass was greener. Sit on that side of the fence for good. Don’t mull.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    The ANC dragging SA closer and closer to irrelevance and international oblivion.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Nothing but a disgrace and revulsion. RT is purely a vicious state propaganda medium spewing lies, deceit and invective on behalf of the odious, brutal and murderous Putin regime. Another betrayal, in a long list, by our pathetic, cowardly and idiotic government in allowing this to happen. Obviously Paula Slier has no morals, integrity, ethics or a shred of decency. She says she is conflicted by the war, yeah right, in which tens of thousands innocent civilians have been murdered and the country laid to waste in Putin’s war only, but obviously not enough to stop her from representing the most hideous human rights abusers and mass murderers in Putin and the Kremlin. She is defending a vile KGB thug and monster, who has so much blood on his hands and doing it knowingly and willingly. No amount of spin can alter this!!

    • Yvonne Riester says:

      Absolutely correct. Putin is a mass murdering devil incarnate, without a shred of empathy, morals or truth. Paula Slier should be ashamed of herself. Sickening how many gullible people fall for RT lies and propaganda.

  • Penny Sawyer says:

    Oh no more fake news with a RT kremlin website

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      Well, It cant be much worse than the fake and ridiculous crap we get from CNN. But don’t worry, our greater population couldn’t be interested nor afford access to both lots of junk. We could do better without any access to both.

  • William Stucke says:

    This is dependent on:
    1) ICASA granting RT a broadcast licence, and
    2) RT finding a platform willing to carry their crap. Multichannel has already said no.
    Good luck with that!

  • Joseph Donnelly says:

    I believe in freedom of the press and there are always 2 sides to a story, but the fact that Russia today is being brodcast from South Africa will no doubt have repercussions for this country, it would seem that the ANC is falling into the BRICS camp there are also some sinister things happening in this country which we are not being informed about for instance why have none of the instigators of last years riots not been brought to book,Carl Nieuhous for one, also what is the reason for Shell and BP shutting down SAPREF refinery is it because we are to be sold Russian oil. If we are to be fed Russian news we want the other side of the story.

  • Michael Clark says:

    One country attacks another for no reason. So we, a democratic country side with the aggressors who have shamelessly bombed woman and children. But life is cheap in SA with Marakana, Esidemeni and pit toilets etc and no douht the ANC cadres seee the Russians as corrupt as them so money to be made.

  • Tim Spring says:

    RT is a state propaganda channel for an aggressive mafia state currently invading a neighbor. In my view this is not the kind of entity we want in the RSA.

  • Russ H says:

    What an awful thought. South Africa seems determined to place itself on the wrong side of history in supporting clear and unambiguous state backed terrorism. Everything the Russians have said has proved itself to be lieas. To allow an unfettered state mouthpiece to justify the Russian actions is simple and clear support for terrorism-period.

    The chickens will come home to roost via cutting off of trade and aid and ultimately misery and job losses.

  • Fiona Ronquest-Ross Ronquest-Ross says:

    What next!? Further propaganda to con Africans?
    Free and fair media? Methinks not.

  • Sheda Habib says:

    At last.
    It was the best balanced TV News Media Channel on DSTV.
    I used to be unsure about BRICS, because of the Chinese, however when I look at the West nowadays, it seems like one of the few better decisions our country made

  • Sheda Habib says:

    After reading some comments below, I cannot believe that the same people shouting “fake RT” get their daily dose of news from SKYE, CNN , BBC and even DM.
    Or maybe I can.

  • Manfred Hasewinkel says:

    Be scared! Judging by RT DE (the German version) we can expect a highly partisan & at best mildly warped, at worst vicious participant in the South African news cycle. It will be the government-friendly news agency that the tri-partite alliance always wanted & it will be FOC. Look, they do raise interesting points but their reports are rarely balanced & often simply ignore the obvious. I read her piece & saw her interview where in both cases she nailed her colours to the post by what she fails to address, i.e. the shut down of the dissenting press & any dissenting voices. While residing in Russia & associated with RT, she was never going to say anything contrary to the official narrative. The ‘conflicted’ statement only serves to round off a narrative that sounds entirely reasonable.

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