Russian independent TV Rain stripped of its license in Latvia

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The National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has decided to cancel the broadcasting authorization for the Russian independent TV channel “TV Rain” (“Дождь”/“Dozhdj”) currently operating in Latvia, said Ivars Āboliņš, chairman of NEPLP, December 6.

The NEPLP's broadcast authorization has been revoked in the context of threats to national security and public order.

TV Rain will disappear from broadcast on Thursday, December 8.

The NEPLP "was convinced that the management of TV Rain did not understand the nature and gravity of each individual infringement, nor of any set of infringements."

Āboliņš said on Twitter that “the laws of Latvia must be followed and respected by everyone” and told Latvian Radio that the decision was not the result of political pressure.


As reported, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) fined TV Rain for displaying a map in which occupied Crimea was marked as Russian territory and for calling the Russian army “our army” in a piece that mentioned how viewers could help provide recruits to the illegal invasion force with supplies and equipment. This was the second serious infringement since TV Rain began operating in Latvia. The State Security Service repeatedly warned that the operation of Russian media in the territory of Latvia poses a threat to national security.

Later in the day, the NEPLP released the full text of its ruling [attached to this story], which runs to 14 pages and notes that on December 5, the NEPLP "received a letter from the State Security Service (VDD)," drawing its attention to the fact that "no kind of behavior is allowed providing support to the aggressor Russia, whose targeted military attacks and implemented violence against Ukrainian civilians is recognized as terrorism, and Russia as a terrorism supporting country." 




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After reviewing the evidence, the NEPLP concluded that "TV Rain" SIA "commits violations systematically and does not recognize them"' and "it cannot be ruled out that violations of regulatory acts will be allowed again".

"It should also be emphasized that non-compliance with the basic conditions of operation issued to the channel regarding creating and distributing content in itself is considered a significant violation, because distributing a program that does not comply with the basic initial operating conditions does not comply with the public interest and the purpose for which the Council issued the specific broadcasting permit," the NEPLP said. Thus in essence the NEPLP decided that TV Rain hadn't been playing by the rules that were in place when it was issued with its broadcast license in the first place.

Public statements of the editor-in-chief of SIA TV Rain, Tikhon Dzyadko, saying the significant violations were considered to be no more than "errors, omissions and technical problems" only underlined the fundamentally different mindsets of the regulator and the channel, the NEPLP suggested.

The regulator also added that it intends to ask YouTube to geoblock TV Rain on Latvian territory.

Later still on Tuesday, the State Security Service (VDD) said it had recommended to the Minister of the Interior that former TV Rain presenter Aleksey Korostelev be added to Latvia's entry blacklist. Korostelev was sacked by the channel after his ill-advised words on providing support to mobilized Russian troops.

The VDD said it had evaluated the statements made on the "Here and Now" program, concluding that they can be interpreted as a call to provide material support to the soldiers mobilized in the Russian occupation forces.

"Despite the explanations given later by the representatives of the TV channel, VDD assess that it is not acceptable to disseminate information in Latvia’s information space that calls on the public to support Russia’s occupying forces. Targeted military attacks and violence against Ukrainian civilians by Russia’s armed forces are recognized as terrorism, and the Russian Federation as a state supporting terrorism.

"According to VDD’s assessment, the statements made in the broadcast are directed against national security interests and create a false impression of Russia’s army, encouraging public sympathy for the aggressors," the VDD said.

However, the VDD also noted that the comments in question were made at the TV Rain studio in Georgia, where Korostelev currently lives, not in Latvia. "Since A. Korosteļev does not have a residence permit in Latvia, according to Article 4 of the Criminal Law, a person cannot be held criminally liable in Latvia," the VDD said. At the same time, the security service said it had warned TV Rain editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko about potential criminal liability.

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