Irish journalist Bryan MacDonald has been named in a new package of British sanctions for his role in Russian media.
s head of Russia and the former Soviet Union for Russia Today (RT) is accused of “being a member of or associated with any person involved in the destabilization of Ukraine or receiving any benefit from the Russian government or to support them.” the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation
Mr MacDonald has been made a Designate by the UK Government.
Others on that list include Herman Gref, CEO of Russia’s largest lender Sberbank and former economy minister, billionaire oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler, and Polina Kovaleva, stepdaughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
British citizens must now freeze any accounts, funds or other economic resources and refrain from doing business with Mr MacDonald. Failure to comply or attempting to circumvent the sanctions is considered a criminal offence.
Mr MacDonald said in a statement to the Irish Independent last night: “I just find it really sad. And it reflects badly on the UK government, which claims to respect freedom of the press.”
He added: “What makes this judgment even more ridiculous is that I have run the (online) desk to the highest professional standards. We have not participated in disinformation.
“Our output was balanced and rigorously fact-checked. Under no circumstances could it have been considered ‘propaganda’. In fact, this seemed to upset some people as they wanted RT to fit a specific narrative.
Mr MacDonald is not the Irish Independent’s former western correspondent Brian McDonald, who happens to have a similar name.
Bryan MacDonald, who is from Carlow, worked for Dublin newspapers for several years including the Evening Herald and the Daily Mail.
He came to Russia in the early 2010s in Khabarovsk, in the Far East near the Chinese border. Mr. MacDonald worked as an English teacher in Khabarovsk and met his future wife there.
The couple moved back to Ireland but moved back to Russia, initially trying to live in Moscow for two months before moving to Krasnodar in the south and Sochi, a resort town on the Black Sea coast.
Mr MacDonald boasted that they occasionally drove from his childhood home in Carlow to Sochi, some 4,600 kilometers away.
He began working with RT in 2013 after writing an op-ed titled “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Ukraine?” before taking over full-time. Before the invasion, he predicted that Russia would not invade Ukraine and described fears of impending war as “media hysteria”.
His prolific work as a commentary writer for RT’s English website and his aggressive defense of Kremlin policy on Twitter earned him a regular spot on Eamon Dunphy’s podcast.
In one of his last tweets on February 22, he wrote: “I really didn’t believe that Russia would launch a full-scale military attack on Ukraine. Like most Russia-based journalists, analysts and pundits, I thought it was saber-rattling or a bluff to force the West to act in negotiations. I apologize for misunderstanding it so much.”
Under his stewardship, RT’s website hired a number of Irish and British writers to write columns for its website.
“What I’m trying to do is help raise a new generation of Russian writers who don’t have the idiotic ideological baggage of their predecessors,” he said in an interview with blogger Niccolo Soldo last year.
https://www.independent.ie/news/irish-journalist-bryan-macdonald-on-uk-sanctions-list-over-role-in-russian-media-41615471.html Irish journalist Bryan MacDonald on UK sanctions list for role in Russian media