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Journalists Defend Sanction Hit Talk Show Host

More than 30 journalists from Russian news agencies have signed an open letter condemning the European Union's decision to place sanctions on pro-Kremlin talk show host Dmitry Kiselyov.

The letter describes Kiselyov, who hosts "New of the Week" on Rossia 1 television channel, as "one of the most famous journalists in our country" and criticizes the EU for imposing travel restrictions and an assets freeze on him last week.

During his program last week, Kiselyov warned that Russia has the capability to turn the U.S. into "radioactive ash" and accused U.S. President Barack Obama of being intimidated by President Vladimir Putin.

Kiselyov was the only representative of the Russian media to be targeted by the EU's sanctions — the other people on the list were Russian officials, Crimean officials or military commanders.

The letter — published Wednesday on Vesti news website — accused the EU of double standards when it comes to the treatment of journalists.

"In our view," the decision to impose sanctions on Kiselyov "is not logical and makes no sense. The EU declares freedom of speech and movement to be basic and essential values of European civilization," the letter said, asking "what's changed?"

The letter also asked whether the EU now reserves the right to punish any journalist for their professional exploits.

Among the people to sign the letter was Arkady Mamontov, who outraged the LGBT community in November by suggesting on his talk show, also on Rossia 1, that the meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk in February 2013 was punishment brought upon Russia for tolerating gays.

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