Latvia cancels licence of exiled Russian television station TV Rain
The liberal-leaning TV Rain, or Dozhd, shifted to broadcasting from Latvia and other countries in July, after being forced to shut its Moscow studio following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, the station has courted controversy recently and was fined 10,000 euros ($10,500) by the regulator on Friday for displaying a map of Russia which included occupied Crimea and for calling Russian troops in Ukraine "our army".
Latvia has cancelled the licence of Russian independent television station TV Rain after the company was branded a threat to national security, the state broadcasting regulator said on Tuesday. The liberal-leaning TV Rain, or Dozhd, shifted to broadcasting from Latvia and other countries in July, after being forced to shut its Moscow studio following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
However, the station has courted controversy recently and was fined 10,000 euros ($10,500) by the regulator on Friday for displaying a map of Russia which included occupied Crimea and for calling Russian troops in Ukraine "our army". The regulator chairman Ivars Abolins told reporters on Tuesday that Latvia's counterintelligence and internal security service had informed his office that the station represented a threat to the security of the European Union member state.
"Everyone must follow Latvian laws and respect them," he said, adding that the broadcasts would cease on Thursday. TV Rain said it programmes could still be seen on YouTube. "We continue to work and we consider all accusations against us to be unfair and absurd," the station said on Twitter.
Abolins said the regulator was convinced TV Rain did not understand "the essence and gravity" of its alleged violations. Latvia is facing a growing rift between the country's Latvian majority and its Russian-speaking minority over their place in society, amid widespread national anger over the invasion of Ukraine by its former Soviet master.
APOLOGY TV Rain's Latvian ban comes nine months after Russia announced that it was blocking the station's output, accusing it of spreading "deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel" in Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Latvia's move showed foreign states were no freer than Russia. "Some always think that elsewhere is better than home. And some always think that freedom is elsewhere and there is no freedom at home. This is one of the clearest examples that demonstrate the fallacy of such illusions," he said.
TV Rain apologized to its viewers and fired a presenter on Friday after Latvia's State Security Service launched an investigation into comments he made on air. The presenter said he had hoped that the station's efforts would help provide Russian soldiers with basic equipment and amenities. TV Rain editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko called the comments "misleading", tweeting last Friday: "TV Rain did not, does not, and will not act to help supply the Russian army".
Latvia's State Security Service said last week it had repeatedly warned policy makers about the challenges "emanating from Russia's so-called independent media relocating their activity to Latvia", saying they posed intelligence risks. ($1 = 0.9525 euros)
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