Who’s Serving to Putin? Dozhd Controversy In Latvia Inflames Tensions Over Émigré Anti-Battle Russians


“There’s a line between freedom of speech and help for conflict,” Latvian International Minister Edgars Rinkevics mentioned in an interview printed on December 5. “I believe no Latvian authority will delay making clear choices concerning the tv channel Dozhd. However it must be a choice primarily based on information and legal guidelines.”

On December 6, Latvia’s electronic-media authority made that call, revoking the exiled impartial Russian tv station’s broadcast license efficient on December 8, citing “the menace to nationwide safety and public order.”

The choice got here after Latvia fined Dozhd 10,000 euros ($10,500) on December 2 for displaying a map that included the occupied Ukrainian area of Crimea as a part of Russia and calling the Russian armed forces “our military.”

The identical day, Latvia’s state safety service opened an investigation into on-air statements by moderator Aleksei Korostelyov on December 1 wherein he invited viewers to submit tales about violations of Russian regulation in the course of the army mobilization decreed by President Vladimir Putin in September and about doable conflict crimes dedicated in Ukraine.

Editor In Chief Tikhon Dzyadko says Dozhd has “by no means, doesn’t, and can by no means provide tools or the rest for any military, together with Russia’s.”

Whereas making the request, Korostelyov mentioned: “We hope we additionally helped many army personnel, particularly by aiding with tools and naked requirements on the entrance line.”

The incidents at one of the crucial extensively revered Russian-language media retailers struck a nerve with many in Latvia, Ukraine, and different nations who’ve argued that many Russian opposition figures — consciously or unconsciously — sympathize with the Kremlin’s neo-colonial, imperialist impulses.

Dozhd supporters, nevertheless, counter that muzzling the station — which was hounded out of Russia for not adhering to the Kremlin’s rhetoric on the invasion of Ukraine — is a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a blow to efforts to cease Russian aggression.

The administration of Dozhd, generally known as TV Rain in English, shortly dismissed Korostelyov and went into disaster mode amid accusations the station supported Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“Dozhd has by no means, doesn’t, and can by no means provide tools or the rest for any military, together with Russia’s,” Editor in Chief Tikhon Dzyadko advised Present Time on December 2.

However such actions weren’t sufficient to persuade the Latvian regulators, who mentioned of their assertion that the station’s administration did “not perceive or acknowledge the importance and the seriousness of the violations and due to this fact it can not function on the territory of Latvia.”

Dozhd pledged to proceed broadcasting through social media and the Web.

Above The Regulation?

The channel was launched in Russia in 2010 below the slogan “Optimistic channel.” It earned a fame as a severe, skilled outlet protecting protests, corruption, dissent, and different points in Russia regardless of strain from the federal government. In 2021, in the course of the crackdown that preceded Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin listed Dozhd as a “overseas agent.” It was shut down in Russia in March, lower than one month after the conflict started, due to its protection of the conflict. In July, it was relaunched from studios in Riga.

The Dozhd contretemps clearly infected long-standing tensions between émigré Russians and residents of different former Soviet republics.

“Oh, my God!” one person wrote on Twitter. “Once more someplace they did not collapse to the Russians who suppose solely native suckers ought to observe the regulation whereas the representatives of a ‘stronger state’ are above all that. Solely the Russian opposition has been disgraced by this story.”

A Latvian on Twitter applauded regulators for “not succumbing to the hysteria of ‘good Russians.'”

“The concept that ‘Russia’s borders do not finish anyplace’ warms the souls of vatniki and Russian liberals alike,” wrote one other Dozhd critic on Twitter, utilizing a quote from Putin and a slang pejorative for a Russian who uncritically believes Kremlin jingoism.

Others claimed that Dozhd managers confirmed up for his or her listening to with Latvian regulators with out anybody of their delegation who spoke Latvian.

“They thought that they’d converse Russian there,” a Twitter person wrote.

An image of Russian President Vladimir Putin by the artist Kriss Salmanis hangs outside the Russian Embassy in Latvia on July 9.

A picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin by the artist Kriss Salmanis hangs exterior the Russian Embassy in Latvia on July 9.

A Latvian nationalist Twitter account that has since been suspended dug up a 2014 put up by Dzyadko as supposed proof of Dozhd’s imperialist leanings. In the put up, Dzyadko wrote sarcastically, “Crimea, welcome to Russia!” whereas linking to a video displaying Russian-installed occupation authorities brutally breaking apart a protest within the Crimea metropolis of Sevastopol.

One other commentator on Twitter described Dozhd as “an imperial Computer virus.”

‘Opening Champagne In The Kremlin’

Outstanding Russian liberals, most of whom have left Russia for worry of persecution for his or her opposition to Putin’s insurance policies, argued that Latvia’s resolution was a trigger for celebration within the Kremlin, including that nobody severely believes Dozhd was offering tools for Russian troopers in Ukraine.

“At the moment is a celebration for Putin,” Leonid Volkov, a prime aide to imprisoned opposition chief Aleksei Navalny, wrote on Twitter. “Life has given him little trigger for pleasure these days, however immediately they’re opening champagne within the Kremlin.”

Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh equally wrote: “Annulling Dozhd’s license helps Putin and does nothing to harm him.”

Writing days earlier than Latvia’s resolution, St. Petersburg lawmaker Boris Vishnevsky mentioned canceling the license could be “a really massive present for Russian propagandists.”

A journalist holds a placard which reads "Foreign agents yourself" near the headquarters of Federal Security Service in Moscow in August 2021, soon after Russia added Dozhd to a growing list of "foreign agent" media outlets.

A journalist holds a placard which reads “International brokers your self” close to the headquarters of Federal Safety Service in Moscow in August 2021, quickly after Russia added Dozhd to a rising record of “overseas agent” media retailers.

Lev Shlosberg, head of the liberal Yabloko get together in Russia’s Pskov area, which borders Latvia, criticized Riga’s resolution as “a populist response to calls for from a radical a part of Latvian society that’s calling for the entire de-Russification of the nation’s media and politics.”

Critics responded to such arguments by saying they proved the purpose of the Dozhd detractors.

Below Shlosberg’s put up, one reader commented: “The essence of this put up is that Latvia is hopelessly provincial however dares to make choices with out the permission of ‘increased ups.’ What’s your suggestion? You may come and create order? I do not help banning Dozhd, however they aren’t free of the duty to observe the legal guidelines of Latvia. Your response is sort of telling.”

Russian journalist Yulia Latynina on Twitter related Latvia’s resolution to a declare that the nation has accepted far fewer Ukrainian refugees than much-smaller Estonia. Whereas many commentators disputed her numbers, others took her to process for trying to dictate coverage to Latvia.

“A citizen of the nation that created the refugees within the first place accuses others of accepting too few of them,” one commentator wrote. “Pure surrealism.”

‘Pure Allies’

Russian economist Konstantin Sonin, who teaches on the College of Chicago, wrote a thread on Twitter that captured many nuances of the Dozhd dispute.

“I completely perceive [the] frustration of many individuals in Ukraine, Latvia, and different nations which are attacked or threatened by Russia,” he wrote, whereas lamenting Latvia’s resolution concerning Dozhd. “I perceive the reluctance to take a nuanced view that makes a distinction between pro-war, pro-Putin Russians and anti-war Russians.”

“I additionally perceive that anti-war, anti-Putin Russians bear accountability for [the] conflict (and for Putin),” he continued. “I personally take into consideration what I might’ve completed otherwise, what sort of efforts I might’ve made to stop Putin’s regime from taking maintain of Russia and launching conflict towards Ukraine.”

However, Sonin insisted, anti-war Russians “are pure allies and assist for defenders of Ukraine,” regardless that they have been unable to “cease the prison conflict” themselves.

Present Time correspondent Yevhenia Tahanovych and RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service contributed to this report.

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