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5 Jul, 2023 14:15

EU state upholds ban on pro-Western Russian TV channel

Latvia’s media regulator protected national security by sanctioning TV Dozhd, a court has ruled
EU state upholds ban on pro-Western Russian TV channel

Latvia’s media regulator acted legally and appropriately when it banned exiled Russian news outlet TV Dozhd (Rain) last December, a district court in Riga has ruled. The crackdown was justified based on national security considerations, the court stated.  

Latvian agency the NEPLP banned the Russian-language TV Dozhd, recognized as a ‘foreign agent’ in Russia, after seeking advice from the national security services. Explaining the decision, the regulator cited alleged wrongdoing by the outlet.   

On one occasion, the online channel showed a map in which Crimea was marked as Russian rather than Ukrainian, contrary to Riga’s official stance. TV Dozhd also failed to provide translation into Latvian, the explanation said, while a further incident involved a host describing Russian troops as “our army” and suggesting that they could benefit from improved living conditions and equipment. 

TV Dozhd described the first two lapses as editorial mistakes. It sacked the host in the third incident, Aleksey Korostelyov, despite maintaining that his choice of words was poor judgment rather than an expression of support for Russia.   

The court ruling, which was adopted in mid-June and published on Tuesday, sided with the regulator, according to local media. The NEPLP had the right to ban TV Dozhd and “took the most appropriate decision” by doing so, the ruling stated. 

TV Dozhd left Russia last year after the government accused it of promoting “extremist activities and violence” and spreading “deliberate lies” about Russian troops in Ukraine. Following the subsequent ban in Latvia, Reports Without Borders accused Riga of presenting “an unexpected gift for the Kremlin.” 

The outlet, which was launched in 2010 and often hosts critics of the Russian government, sued the NEPLP in an attempt to defend its reputation, according to the news website Delfi. 

After losing its Latvian license, TV Dozhd was swiftly granted permission to operate by the Netherlands. Its programming remains available on EU cable networks, and Latvian-based employees have kept their jobs. Nevertheless, the newsroom plans to move to Amsterdam in the future. 

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