Critical Russian TV escapes prospect of closure over WWII poll

30th January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia's opposition TV channel on Thursday avoided the prospect of closure but received a stern warning from a state regulator over a controversial World War II poll.

The telecoms regulator warned the independent Internet and cable channel Dozhd (TV Rain) it violated legislation by publishing a poll Sunday ahead of the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the Nazi siege of Leningrad.

The poll asked viewers whether they thought the city should have been surrendered to save lives in a city where at least 800,000 died of hunger during the siege.

In a letter to the channel known for its criticism of President Vladimir Putin, Roskomnadzor said the channel violated a law that requires journalists "to respect rights and the legitimate interests of citizens".

The poll also contradicted a law aimed at "immortalising victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1945," the letter said.

Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky told AFP however the regulator "has not found any objective violations that would lead to some sort of sanctions" and would not issue a formal reprimand.

A media outlet can be shut down after it receives two reprimands within the span of a year.

The channel has come under unprecedented pressure over the poll, with Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Dozhd had "crossed all the limits of what can be tolerated".

The management of Dozhd, which has in detail covered an anti-protest movement in Ukraine, apologised over the poll but stressed the pressure was politically motivated.

Several providers dropped the channel from their packages on Wednesday. On Thursday, some of the providers resumed broadcasting, Dozhd said.

Putin, who returned to the Kremlin for a third term in 2012, has said the heroic role of the Soviet Union in WWII should never be revisited.

© 2014 AFP

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