New East Digital Archive

Only Crimean Tatar TV channel shut down by Russian media watchdog

Only Crimean Tatar TV channel shut down by Russian media watchdog

1 April 2015

The world’s only Crimean Tatar TV channel, ATR, was taken off air today, after Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor refused four requests from the channel to re-register before today’s deadline. Elzara Islyamova, general director of ATR, has said that the watchdog repeatedly delayed processing ATR’s application, while Roskomnadzor cites technicalities in the TV channel’s application as behind its decision to refuse re-registering the organisation.

Until now, ATR, which is based in Simferopol, has operated under a media licence issued by Ukrainian authorities, however since Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March, ATR and other broadcasting channels have been required to reapply for a licence from Russia’s federal media service.

Islyamova told RIA Novosti: “We will continue to do everything possible in order to obtain the necessary documents needed to resume ATR’s activities.”

In addition to the TV channel, Lale, a Crimean Tatar children’s channel, as well as FM-radio stations Maidan and Leader, which are part of ATR’s media holding, have also ceased broadcasting.

Dmitry Polonsky, deputy prime minister of the Crimean government and the peninsula’s information minister, has suggested that “the repetition of the same errors in ATR’s application” is the result of “a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict on the part of ATR’s owners”.

Intimating ATR’s deliberate attempts to stir up trouble between the channel and Russian regional authorities, the prime minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, told news agency Interfax that “attempts to defend Ukrainian interests on Crimean territory are futile and simply not needed. There is no need to agitate the population on the idea that Crimea will be returned to Ukraine at some point”.

Crimean Tatars, many of whom were exiled from Crimea under Stalin, comprise a significant ethnic minority in the peninsula, with many opposed to the annexation of Crimea by Russia last year for fears of persecution under Moscow’s government. In an online poll on ATR’s website, more than 99% of the over 190,000 respondents expressed support for the beleaguered channel.