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Give the Russian people access to the truth, MP tells Foreign Secretary

March 9, 2022 10:46 AM

On the floor of the House of Commons today, South Lakes MP Tim Farron urged the Foreign Secretary to make sure Russian people will have continued access to legitimate news sources such as the BBC.

Speaking during Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Questions in Parliament, Tim said: "I was speaking to Ukrainian friends of mine who live in Kendal just a day or two ago. They have family in Kyiv and family in Crimea.

"In Kyiv, they know exactly, tragically, what is going on. In Crimea, they are completely in the dark and fed only what Putin tells them.

"Does the right honourable lady agree that one way we can help Crimea and the whole of Ukraine is to ensure that people in Russia and Russian-controlled territories know the truth of the murderous barbarity being done in their name?

"Will she be encouraged - I am sure she is - by the fact that, in the past week, visits to the BBC's Russian language website have trebled? However, that is only 10 million people, and there are 150 million people in Russia.

"How can she help us to ensure that information gets to the Russian people?"

Responding, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss agreed on the importance of continuing the BBC's coverage to the Russian people. The Foreign Secretary also made note of the fact that young people within Russia are less likely to believe the Russian state media through their access to social media, however, that Russia's President was cracking down on their access to this.

She said: "We are working with social media companies to see what we can do. We have established a cross-Government information unit to communicate with the Russian people directly in the Russian language.

"Moreover, one impact of sanctions-and a reason why we have targeted banks-is that they send a message to the Russian people when they are forced to queue for money, when they cannot get on the tube, or when they cannot access the normal services that they have been accessing. I welcome the actions of corporates in Britain to withdraw their services from Russia.

"The message must get across to the Russian people that this appalling war is being fought in their name."

Speaking afterwards, Tim said: "I agree wholeheartedly with the Foreign Secretary's commitment to provide legitimate news coverage to the Russian people, and I support the cross-Government unit that are trying to achieve that. I hope that social media companies will do the right thing and work with governments to continue social media access as well."