Latvia Blocked the Broadcast of a Russian TV Channel Because of Ukraine

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The head of the directorate of international affairs of VGTRK Pyotr Fedorov, commenting on Latvia’s restriction on the broadcasting of the “Russia RTR” TV channel, said that it is an attempt at censorship – the audience of the TV channel will anyway find a way to watch it.

Earlier it became known that the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) at a meeting on Thursday made the decision to ban the relaying (including distribution) of the programs of the Russian “Russia RTR” on the territory of Latvia for three months. Violations were found in the “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” and “60 minutes” programs. For example, in the program “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” from May 22nd 2018 “the host unequivocally and repeatedly made hostile statements against the residents of Ukraine”.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened… Of course, as always, it is subjective, and of course, again it is a latent appeal to censorship, i.e., censoring the airwaves. All of this is ridiculous”

said Fedorov to RIA Novosti

He explained that, as a rule, the pretensions of the Latvian side concern not news releases, but talk shows in which, according to them, these or those events are incorrectly covered.

“We will continue our work, we will not introduce any internal censorship, and we proceed from the fact that in terms of access to the fullness of information, our television is much more free now than those colleagues who once seemed to us to be an icon of information freedom”

added the interlocutor of the agency

He believes that the upcoming elections in European Parliament may be the cause of the ban on broadcasting the programs of the Russian TV channel – “to protect voters from complete information”; perhaps this is somehow connected to the corruption scandal involving the mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs, who “by inertia is represented as a defender of the interests of the Russian-speaking population”, which “hasn’t been the case for a very long time”.

The TV and Radio Broadcasting coordination council of Moldova banned the broadcasting of the “Russia-24” TV channel. “The discrepancy between the programs of the channel and the code of telecasting in Moldova” was named as the reason. Channels relaying “NTV”, “Channel 1”, “RTR”, and “REN” in Moldova are fined.

“In the current conditions it is impossible to completely limit the access of Latvians and the Russian-speaking citizens of Latvia to our channel: there is the Internet, many buy satellite TV… This decision affects people who pay money to watch our television, it is blow to cable operators, it is a blow to advertising services”

added Fedorov

The authorities of the Baltic countries have repeatedly obstructed the work of the Russian media. Previously, the Lithuanian government expelled the film crew of the VGTRK correspondent Pavel Zarubin. In October 2015 the authorities of Estonia detained the film crew of the VGTRK correspondent Nikolay Vasilyev at the “Koydul” check point. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania in April 2014 refused accreditation to the staff reporter of RIA Novosti Irina Pavlova, but the authorities did not explain the reason. Due to these cases the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that there are strong indications that the line of the Baltic countries is coordinated. Instances of the media being oppressed in the Baltic States, noted the MFA, “clearly demonstrate what in practice the demagogic statements about the commitment of Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn to the principles of democracy and freedom of speech mean”.

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