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Egypt protests to Moscow over RT poll on disputed territory

A state-controlled Russia Today (RT) television broadcast van is seen parked in Moscow on March 16, 2018
AFP

Cairo (AFP) – Egypt said it protested on Saturday to Moscow about an online poll by Russian state-owned channel RT on whether readers view a disputed border territory as Egyptian or Sudanese.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said it contacted Russian authorities to express its “strong condemnation” of the poll, demanding “an urgent explanation for this unacceptable conduct”.

The online vote focused on the Halayeb triangle, which is controlled by Egypt and lies near the Red Sea in a mineral-rich border region, and has been a bone of contention between the two neighbours for decades.

The Friday poll on Russia Today, known by its acronym RT, could no longer be seen on its Arabic language opinion polls page on Saturday. 

Egypt’s State Information Service, which regulates foreign media, said the poll had been removed.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry cancelled an interview with the channel on Saturday ahead of an official visit on Monday to Moscow, his spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.

Egyptian authorities regularly comment on foreign media’s work in Egypt and the country is ranked 161 out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

Moscow and Cairo boosted cooperation in December when Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to the Egyptian capital and met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

During the visit the two countries signed a contract to build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast.

Relations further improved last month when Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, resumed flights between Moscow and Cairo.

Russia had suspended flights to Egypt in 2015 after the bombing of a Russian plane carrying holidaymakers from a Red Sea resort that killed all 224 people on board, an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

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