Latvia has revoked the license of independent Russian television Dozhd TV, denouncing that it “poses a threat to national security and social order”, following a series of content violations on the war in Ukraine, missteps over which the leaders of the broadcaster immediately tried to remedy, most recently by firing the journalist Aleksei Korostelev who last week in the broadcast had anticipated his intention to leave space for the stories of Russian soldiers to ensure that they could be better equipped.
“Dozhd (which means rain in Russian) will disappear from the airwaves starting Thursday, December 8. The laws of Latvia must be respected by everyone,” wrote the President of the National Council for Electronic Media, Ivars Abolins.
Dozhd TV resumed broadcasting from Latvia in June after the Russian authorities shut it down on March 1, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine began.
On Dozhd TV, a broadcaster founded in Moscow in 2008 which had soon turned into the opposition channel, a map was also exhibited in which Crimea was part of Russia and for having defined Russian forces as “our forces”, for which he had received a fine of 10 thousand euros. Director Tikhon Dzyadko apologized to viewers for the third violation.
“Dozhd does not and will never help the Russian army at the front or anywhere else,” Dzyadko said. But Abolins said the agency’s investigators have determined that the broadcaster “does not understand and does not realize the nature and gravity of each of the alleged violations.” Last week, Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Artis Pabriks called for the return of the exiled Russian television editorial team to Russia and for the revocation of the broadcasting licence.
Dozhd replied that he will continue to broadcast on his YouTube channel – which the Latvian agency has asked to block in the country – and that he considers the accusations “unjust and absurd”. For the Kremlin it is an example “of the misleading illusion that any place is better or safer than Russia”. In Riga already in 2014 he had opened the independent Russian news site Meduza and last March, after further tightening by the Russian authorities on the media, Radio Europa Libera, Novaya Gazeta Europe and the Moscow editorial office of Deutsche Welle.
Several Russian opponents in exile abroad, such as University of Chicago economist Konstantin Sonin, have called on the Latvian authorities to back down. “I understand that the efforts of the Russians against Putin may be underappreciated, given that as we know now we have not been able to stop the criminal war. Yet looking ahead, the anti-war Russians are the natural allies and help the defenders of the Ukraine and peace,” he wrote on Twitter.