A Plymouth man who moved to Russia to become a TV journalist has been caught up in a political row after the country invaded Ukraine.
Kevin Owen, who was born in Ocean City in Britain and lived in Keyham and Crownhill, later worked for the BBC in Wales before moving to Moscow to work for RT (Russia Today), where he is listed as main news anchor.
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sparked a row over the broadcasting of the station, which is controlled by the Russian state.
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Labor leader Keir Starmer called RT Vladimir Putin a “personal propaganda tool” and said the station was spreading “lies and misinformation”.
In 2008, PlymouthLive reported that Mr Owen had won the award for best news anchor at a ceremony in the Kremlin as a “highlight” of his career.
The RT website describes Mr Owen, who started working in Cardiff before moving to Bristol, as “RT’s senior newscaster, and also one of our longest-serving newscasters.
“A skilled interviewer, Kevin excelled at getting to the heart of the breaking news.”
But on social media platform Linkedin, Mr Owen is listed as ‘former senior news presenter’ and has a message saying ‘looking for new opportunities’.
This evening! Is this really the end?
“From me, Kevin Owen, for one last time, goodbye.”
The international stream has been replaced by RT America. pic.twitter.com/EZDwu4dkkc
—Huw Thomas (@huwthomas)
UK viewers may soon find it difficult to access the station after YouTube and Facebook announced they would block access to RT and Sputnik.
A viewer said Mr Owen looked ‘uncomfortable’ signing before the ban came into effect.
Youtube had previously limited the ability of RT and other Russian channels to earn money for ads that appear on videos, but extended its sanctions to block such channels altogether.
“Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we are blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately,” a statement from Google Europe read.
“It will take time for our systems to be fully operational. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to act quickly. »
Social media platform Facebook has also blocked access to RT and Sputnik on its platform, having previously also limited the channels’ ability to generate ad revenue.
The change means that organizations’ pages are not visible on Facebook or Instagram in the EU, but for now they will remain visible in the UK.
There are fears that if RT is completely shut down in the UK, the Kremlin will ban the BBC from broadcasting in Russia.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said “careful judgment” is needed on whether the station should be banned.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said RT will no longer be available on Sky.
She said: “Soon the French satellite which broadcasts Russia Today (RT) in the EU and UK will be switched off.
“This means that RT will no longer be available via Sky.
“Putin’s polluting propaganda machine will now have severely restricted access to British homes through our television screens.”
Who is Kevin Owen?
According to Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, Kevin was born in Plymouth in 1966.
The newspaper specifies: “Kevin Owen was born in 1966 in Plymouth (United Kingdom).
“He graduated with a Masters in Journalism from Cardiff University. Early in his career he was an evening news presenter for BBC Wales and also worked for four regional channels in the UK.
“Before moving to Russia in 2006, he was a presenter on the Sky News television channel for five years. Currently, he is a news presenter on the Russian English-language television channel Russia Today.
“In September 2008, Owen received the TEFI Award in the News Program Host nomination, becoming the first foreigner to receive the award.”
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