Dozens march in Kiev in support of Russian opposition channel

9th February 2014, Comments 0 comments

Dozens of people marched through central Kiev on Sunday pledging their support for Russia's top opposition television channel Dozhd (TV Rain), which is threatened with closure.

Several providers have recently dropped the independent Internet and cable channel -- known for its critical coverage of President Vladimir Putin -- from their television packages in what the station has called a campaign of intimidation.

In Kiev, meanwhile, pro-Western Ukrainians have been protesting against their president for over two months, turning the city centre into a war zone-like enclave in fury over Viktor Yanukovych's rejection of an EU trade and political pact in November in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

Carrying signs reading "Dozhd, we're with you" and "Ukrainian youth for independent media", the young demonstrators marched under umbrellas on the margins of a 70,000-strong protest against Yanukovych on the central Independence Square, wearing yellow and blue ribbons -- the colours of Ukraine and the European Union.

As well as Ukrainian opposition demands for lawmakers to slash presidential powers, amend the constitution and create a new pro-Western government, many young protesters in Kiev are also calling for democracy and freedom of the press to be upheld.

The pressure on Russia's Dozhd began late last month after it announced a phone-in poll asking whether Leningrad should have been surrendered during World War II in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives during the siege by Nazi forces.

Senior lawmakers called the poll unpatriotic and urged prosecutors to probe the station over possible extremism, in what Dozhd supporters and political commentators said was a punishment for the channel's independence.

On Saturday, some 40 people protesting in Moscow in support of the television channel were detained by police.

© 2014 AFP

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