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Latvia pulls the plug on an anti-Kremlin Russian TV station

origin 1The Ukrainian flag flies atop the Daugavpils Radio and Television Tower in Daugavpils, a southeastern Latvian city. ©GINTS IVUSKANS/AFP or licensees

Latvia canceled the license of an exiled Russian TV channel on Tuesday, calling it a threat to national security.

Rain, an independent Russian TV channel, has moved to Latvia after being forced to close its Moscow studio following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He had pledged to provide independent intelligence to the Russians.

The liberal and anti-Kremlin channel described the decision as “unfair and absurd”.

However, the station recently sparked controversy after showing a map of Russia that included occupied Crimea and calling Russian troops in Ukraine “our army”.

As a result, she was fined €10,000 by Latvian regulators.

Fear of Moscow after the invasion has grown in Latvia, a Baltic country bordering Russia.

About a quarter of its two million inhabitants are Russian speakers, with deep problems related to integration and their place in society.

These tensions have increased since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February.

The Latvian regulator’s decision was denounced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a media observatory, which called the move “unworthy of a European country that defends press freedom”.

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According to Jeanne Cavelier, head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia office, “censorship of independent Russian media undermines efforts to combat Kremlin propaganda.”

Speaking to France24 in September, Rain’s editor-in-chief – Dozhd in Russian – said the channel’s mission was to provide independent intelligence to Russians.

“Those who control the information control the situation,” said Tikhon Dzyadko, adding that the station’s goal was to provide “real information about what is happening and not this propaganda spread by Russian TV stations.”

Moscow commented on the decision in a relatively neutral tone.

“[Rai] it is an example of the wrongness of such illusions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The chairman of Latvia’s regulatory authority, Ivars Abolins, told reporters on Tuesday that the Latvian security services had informed his office that the station posed a security threat to the European Union member state.

“Everyone has to follow the Latvian laws and respect them,” he said, adding that the broadcasts will cease on Thursday.

TV Rain said its shows can still be seen on YouTube.

Russia announced a blockade of the station in March, accusing it of spreading “deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel” in Ukraine.