New East Digital Archive

Russian liberal news channel Dozhd TV threatened with closure

28 January 2014

The head of Russia’s Cable Television Association has suggested disconnecting liberal online television channel Dozhd TV after a poll on their website asked whether Leningrad (now St Petersburg) should have been surrendered to the Nazis in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Yuri Pripachkin joined the scores of bloggers, politicians and other public figures who have accused Dozhd TV of desecrating the memory of the Great Patriotic War, the Russian name for the Second World War.

Critics took particular offence at the fact that the poll was published on Sunday, a day before the 70th anniversary of the Siege of Leningrad. Between 600,000 and 1.5 million people died during the Nazi siege which lasted from 1941 to 1944. The poll taken down after just minutes of publication. The channel later tweeted an apology, claiming the question was “an error by the producer … and the social network editor”.

Dozhd TV Director Natalia Sindeeva wrote on her Facebook page: “I didn’t go to work today. I’m crying. I’m hurt and offended for all of us, for myself and for my family. For everyone who tried to do something in a state which uses a steam roller to crush any green shoots of common sense and conscience.”

Writing on his Facebook page, GQ Russia Editor Michael Idov said that critics of Dozhd TV had long been attempting to close the television channel down and had finally “grasped at the flimsiest excuse to threaten to switch it [the channel] off”. Since its launch in 2010, Dozhd TV has been covering Russian news and politics, often from a liberal perspective. It came to global prominence for its coverage of anti-government protests in late 2011. At the time of writing, hackers had hit the Cable Television Association’s website with a distributed-denial-of-service-attack, making it unavailable.

Earlier this week, members of the State Duma called for the criminalisation of “Second World War revisionism”. Irina Yarovaya, a member of the ruling United Russia party, told RIA Novosti: “Such actions should always be treated as a crime of restoring Nazism.” Igor Lebedev, a member of the populist Liberal Democratic party, said his party would soon draft a bill to criminalise “insulting … the memory of the Great Patriotic War”.