December 14, 2022

Latvia Opens Its Umbrella


Latvia Opens Its Umbrella
TV Rain announces the development. Youtube, TV Rain.

On December 6, Latvia annulled the broadcasting license of the controversial independent Russian television network Dozhd (aka TV Rain), due to multiple instances of Dozhd makine pro-Russian government statements. The ban took effect on December 8.

Dozhd found shelter in Latvia after it was banned in Russia – a few days after the February 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine. While Dozhd is an independent outlet, their loyalties were later questioned by Latvian media regulators. For instance, Dozhd aired a map showing Crimea as part of Russia, for which they were fined 10,000 Euros ($10,526). Dozhd also referred to the Russian army as "our army" on Latvian cable. On top of that, their anchor, Alexei Korostelev, said that the station was able to help the Russian military.

The head of the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), Ivars Abolinsh, announced the decision, citing violations of Latvian law and concerns of "danger to national security and public order." The council was not able to ban the station on YouTube, so Dozhd announced on Twitter that their content would still be available there for Latvian audiences. 

The head of Dozhd, Tikhon Dzyadko, compared Latvia's decision to the censorship the company faced in Russia. At a press conference held in Riga on December 9, Dzyadko called the map incident "a mistake" and referred to the "our army" statement as a reflection of their majority-Russian audience. Regarding Korostelev, Dzyadko did not offer any explanations for his statement but focused instead on not being heard by the NEPLP.

Korolostev has since been banned from entering Latvia.

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