Russian state-owned television station Russia Today says Twitter had pushed it to spend millions on advertising ahead of the 2016 US presidential election. The San Francisco company had announced Thursday that it would ban ads from RT and Sputnik, two state-sponsored Russian news outlets that the US intelligence community has said tried to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.
RT replied Thursday by publishing what it said were excerpts from Twitter’s pitch made in April last year to get the TV station to spend millions of dollars on advertising, an offer that RT says it has turned down. RT’s editor in chief, Margarita Simonyan, on Thursday tweeted to Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, saying that she hopes he “won’t forget” about the pitch when he testifies at congressional hearings next week. Twitter will be joined by Google and Facebook in testifying before US lawmakers on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Twitter also said this week it will disclose more information on political ads.
Speaking about the ban on Friday, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters that the Kremlin is “sorry that Twitter seems to have fallen victim to profound prejudice against Russian media” and that Twitter’s “discrimination of its clients” is worrisome. Peskov expressed hope that the company will revisit the situation and see that the activities of Russian media outlets “cannot be described as election meddling.” Peskov’s comments struck a reconciliatory note after the Foreign Ministry on Friday vowed a “response” to the ads ban.