The liberal-leaning Russian independent television channel Dozhd (TV Rain) resumed broadcasting last night from abroad after being forced to close its Moscow studio following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Dozhd, portrayed in the 2021 film ‘Tango with Putin’, was visited and praised in 2011 by then-President Dmitry Medvedev when he was just a year old, and largely apolitical.
But like all Russian independent media, it has been harassed relentlessly since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012.
Yesterday he said he had received a broadcast license from the European Union and would work from studios in Latvia, France and the Netherlands – as well as in Georgia, where many Russians find it hard to comfortable with the invasion have moved since February.
It will also air on YouTube, which is uncensored in Russia and will likely be the only way for most Russians to see it.
“Due to repressive laws and military censorship passed in Russia, we were forced to leave our homes. Now we are resuming our work from outside the country,” Dozhd’s statement said.
As Russia grew more authoritarian, especially after protests over the 2012 election results were cracked down, a station calling itself the “Optimistic Channel” found it could no longer ignore politics.
In 2014 he was rejected from broadcast networks after conducting a poll in which respondents said the Soviet Union should have surrendered Leningrad to Hitler in 1941 instead of withstanding a Nazi siege for nearly 900 days – a subversion of the ideal of wartime resistance and affirmation of Russian values that Mr. Putin likes to evoke.
In 2021, Dozhd was expelled from the Kremlin press pool and labeled a “foreign agent”. This designation obliged him to affix a disclaimer to all his production – now confined to the Internet – and imposed a host of administrative obligations on him.
On March 1, Russia’s communications watchdog announced it was blocking Dozhd’s release, accusing him of spreading “deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel” in Ukraine.
The next day, Dozhd announced that his team had left Russia.