Turkey lifts ban on Russia’s Sputnik news website

Turkey lifts ban on Russia’s Sputnik news website

Turkey lifts ban on Russia’s Sputnik news website Turkey’s Department of Telecommunications and Communication (TİB) has lifted its ban on the Russian news website Sputnik, after months of keeping it blocked, Anadolu Agency reported on Aug. 8. Ankara had blocked access to Sputnik on April 14, citing “legal consideration” of a law regarding crimes committed through online broadcasts.

“Our website is unblocked in Turkey. Starting at 10 a.m. Moscow time we began to receive messages from users that the website is accessible again. We started checking this information and it is actually working,” Sputnik reported the editor-in-chief of its Turkish version, Mahir Boztepe, as saying. 

The ban was lifted amid the normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, which became strained when Turkey downed a Russian warplane along the Syrian border on Nov. 24, 2015. The incident was followed by a spat of words from both sides harming diplomatic ties and economic sanctions. 

The eight-month-long period of icy relations began to thaw in late June when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his deep sorrow over the jet incident.

As another step toward mending ties between the countries, Russia recently officially removed all economic and touristic sanctions which had been put against Turkey.

Putin and Erdoğan were scheduled to meet on Aug. 9 in St. Petersburg for the first time since the normalization process began, also marking the Turkish president’s first foreign visit since the failed coup attempt on July 15, believed to be carried out by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Erdoğan had commented on TİB in a speech after the failed takeover, saying the department was to be transferred to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK). 

“We want to form a strong intelligence mechanism against the activities of this organization [FETÖ]. For instance, we will shut TİB down, because it is among the places that has all the dirt,” Erdoğan said in a speech in the Presidential Palace in Ankara on Aug. 2, adding that necessary preparations were made regarding the people working in TİB.