“Only satanists” could sanction the Patriarch, says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova

Doubling down on its commitment to Ukraine, Canada on Friday blacklisted 29 Russians and 15 entities, accusing them of being “disinformation and propaganda agents” of the Kremlin. Among those sanctioned were RT and Sputnik, two government agencies, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. 

“Only satanists could sanction the Patriarch,” Zakharova said on Telegram, reacting to the announcement.

A spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church called the Canadian sanctions “another pointless move, empty of meaning.”

Patriarch Kirill is person 847 on the Canadian sanctions list, under his birth name Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev. 

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly made no mention of the Patriarch in her announcement of the new sanctions, sent from the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia. Joly claimed the sanctions were aimed at “state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda agents.”

“The Russian propaganda machine must answer for its lies. Canada is committed to fighting disinformation wherever and whenever it is found,” Joly said. “Canada stands with Ukraine.”

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Ottawa’s “propaganda” designation applies to all major Russian media outlets, from Channel 1 and Russia-1, to NTV, TASS, public broadcaster VGTRK, Russia-24, RT, Sputnik and Regnum. Also sanctioned on Friday were the international aid agency Rossotrudnichestvo and the media regulator Roskomnadzor. Among the sanctioned individuals was movie director Tigran Keosayan, husband of RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan – who has also been blacklisted by Ottawa.

Another part of Friday’s sanctions package was an embargo on the importation of Russian gold and most gold products. 

The government in Ottawa banned broadcasting by RT in March, accusing it of menacing the sovereignty of Ukraine. Moscow responded two months later, revoking the credentials of the Canadian state broadcaster CBC.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned of additional countermeasures, noting that the West has thrown out international law in favor of arbitrary rules on the nature of “freedom of information” and “propaganda.”

“We initially did not want to give a mirror response that would affect journalists’ rights, but the West has buried the freedom of speech with its own hands,” Lavrov said on Monday.

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