New York, January 13, 2017–Ukrainian authorities should immediately reverse an order banning broadcasts of the independent Russian television channel Dozhd (Rain) in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Dozhd reported yesterday that the Ukrainian regulator, the National Radio and Television Council (NRTC), had ordered the broadcaster’s Ukrainian partner, Volya, to cease broadcasts by mid-February. According to Dozhd, the NRTC said the ban was imposed because Dozhd violated a Ukrainian law prohibiting television stations from countries including Russia from running advertisements.
“Ukraine should immediately cancel the order to ban broadcasts of the independent Russian broadcaster Dozhd,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “This ham-handed censorship will deprive Russian-speaking Ukrainian viewers of a counterpoint to Russian state-controlled media.”
The Russian state-run news agency Interfax cited an NRTC member as saying the order to ban Dozhd came after the channel aired a map showing the territory of Crimea as part of Russia. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Interfax quoted Dozhd’s director, Natalya Sindeyeva, as saying that Russian law obligates media to use maps showing Crimea as part of Russia. She also said the NRTC had never warned the broadcaster about the law on advertising, Interfax reported.
Russian authorities have repeatedly harassed and censored Dozhd for its coverage, CPJ research shows. In 2014 CPJ honored Mikhail Zygar, then the station’s editor-in-chief, with its International Press Freedom Award.