Latvia has revoked the broadcast license for TV Rain. The independent Russian outlet previously relocated to Latvia after being shut down by Kremlin authorities for perceived opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. Photo by TV Rain/Twitter
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Latvia has revoked TV Rain's broadcast license over alleged support for the invasion of Ukraine, ordering the the exiled independent Russian media outlet to stop broadcasting by Dec. 8.
Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP,) which has authority over broadcast licenses, said TV Rain posed a "threat to national security and public order."
The decision stems from a segment where TV Rain journalist Aleksey Korostelev made an appeal for Russians to help provide information on conscripted soldiers, adding "we hope that we were able to help many servicemen, among others, with equipment or just elementary amenities on the front lines."
Korostelev, who fled Russia earlier this year, told The New York Times that his statement was an appeal to gather information on abuses of the Russian authorities, not a statement in support of the war.
The Latvian State Security Service said they had "repeatedly alerted the decision-makers about the various risks emanating from Russia's so-called independent media relocating their activity to Latvia," in a statement on Dec. 2.
TV Rain, known as Dozhd in Russia, was considered one of the primary voices of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine. The channel was blocked from broadcasting by the Kremlin earlier this year after it referred to the conflict in Ukraine as a war, a deviation from the government's requirement to refer to it as a "special military operation."
The channel and many of its journalists then relocated to Latvia where they continued broadcasting to Russian-speaking audiences in the region.
Defenders of TV Rain have said the suspension stems from a misunderstanding.
In an interview with Meduza, TV Rain's CEO Natalia Sindeeva insisted the incident that lead to the suspension was a mistake and pointed out that the TV presenter responsible was fired, though she regrets not standing up for him.
The role of Russian-speaking media in Latvia has always been controversial, as there is a large Russian-speaking community in the Baltic nation.
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the move from Latvia.
"Forced into exile after Russia launched its war against Ukraine because of its coverage of the conflict, this channel was able to resume operating in Latvia. It can be criticized for the offenses with which it is accused but the withdrawal of its license would be a serious blow to journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism," the press freedom watchdog wrote in a letter to the NEPLP.