The main telecommunications regulator in Lithuania has started blocking Internet Protocol (IP) addresses associated with Russian television channels, effectively barring citizens from streaming content that is banned in the country.
The move comes after the European Union slapped sanctions on Russia-based television broadcasters in response to the country’s military invasion of Ukraine early last year.
In a statement, the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) justified the decision to block IP addresses by saying Internet service providers contribute to the illegal reception of banned channels.
“Therefore, the LRTK made a decision to instruct the providers of public electronic communications networks [and related services] to block the access to the specific IP addresses that allow broadcasts from television programs that are subject to restrictive measures, or sanctions, approved by the European Union,” a spokesperson for the LRTK said.
The channels affected include five versions of the external news network RT — including its main English feed and localized variants aimed at the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain — as well as satellite network Sputnik. Russia 24 (Rossiya 24), TV Center International, NTV, Russia 1 (Rossiya 1) and REN TV were also on the list.
Last year, Lithuania banned nine terrestrial channels from Russia, as well as over 90 Russia-based websites that were accused of spreading propaganda on behalf of the Kremlin. It also requested Google-owned YouTube make certain content deemed “misinformation” unavailable to Lithuanian citizens.
Lithuania shares a border with Russia, and has a large population of citizens who speak Russian as their native language. To accommodate these citizens, the LRTK in September recommended replacing some Russian television signals with broadcasts originating from Ukraine.