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2 Dec, 2022 14:00

Exiled Russian TV channel sacks host amid pressure from EU member

Aleksey Korostelyov said that Latvia-based TV Dozhd is helping Russian troops
Exiled Russian TV channel sacks host amid pressure from EU member

Latvia-based Russian liberal channel TV Dozhd (TV Rain) has fired one of its hosts, who implied that the broadcaster was helping to equip mobilized Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. The incident represents the channel's second breach of Latvia's broadcasting code and the outlet is now just one strike away from losing its license.

TV Dozhd dismissed journalist Aleksey Korostelyov on Friday, after his on-air comment the previous day sparked outrage among supporters of Ukraine. Korostelyov had urged the audience to share stories about mobilized Russian military reservists and problems they might be having.

“We hope that we have helped many service members, including, for example, with equipment and basic comforts on the frontline,” he added.

Many people interpreted the remark as an admission that the channel was providing material support to the Russian military campaign against Ukraine and rushed to condemn it.

Editor-in-Chief Tikhon Dzyadko assured the public that TV Dozhd had never supported the Russian campaign. What it expected to get was “personal accounts about crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine and violations during the criminal and senseless mobilization in the Russian Federation,” he said in a statement.

News section chief Ekaterina Kotrikadze announced Korostelyov’s sacking during Friday’s broadcast. The channel’s leadership “considers it the only right and possible option,” she said while apologizing to the audience. 

The channel was launched in 2010 and has been highly critical of the policies of the Russian government. After hostilities escalated in Ukraine in February, Russian authorities banned it from broadcasting, citing what they called false claims about the military operation. Many newsroom staff then moved out of the country.

The channel has been working from a studio in Riga since mid-June, though some members of the Latvian government have been highly critical of it.

Ivars Abolins, the head of the Latvian media regulator NEPLP, announced on Friday that his agency had fined Dozhd €10,000 ($10,538). The punishment was for showing Crimea on a map marked as part of Russia rather than Ukraine – contrary to the positions of Kiev and Riga – and for calling Russian troops “our army,” he said.

The statement didn’t detail when the violation happened, but emphasized that it was a second serious breach by the channel and warned that a third strike may result in NEPLP revoking its license.

Meanwhile Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said on social media that TV Dozhd should be forced to move back to Russia. “I was told that the process has been started,” he added.

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