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As Russia continues to crack down on independent media outlets within its borders, one television news channel ended its broadcast by showing staffers walking off a set Thursday in an act of protest.
Regulators in Russia accused the channel, also known as Dozhd or TV Rain, of “inciting extremism, abusing Russian citizens, causing mass disruption of public calm and safety, and encouraging protests,” the BBC reported.
“We need strength to exhale and understand how to work further. We really hope that we will return to the air and continue our work, “Natalya Sindeeva, CEO of Dozhd, said in a statement posted to social media.
Dozhd has also halted its website. Independent Russian news media is increasingly coming under scrutiny as news about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine depicts the struggles faced by the military as casualties on the battlefield and global criticism continue to mount.
Radio station Ekho Moskvy also had its website blocked, Reuters reported.
“The Ekho Moskvy board of directors has decided by a majority of votes to liquidate the radio channel and the website of Ekho Moskvy,” Editor-in-Chief Alexei Venediktov wrote on messaging app Telegram.
Russia has repeatedly rejected the terms “war” and “invasion” over its incursion into Ukraine and had accused the West of spreading disinformation with help from media outlets.
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure that could jail journalists for up to 15 years for reporting “fake” news about the military and invasion that conflicts with statements from Russian officials.
At the start of the war, Mikhail Zygar, the founder of Dozhd, posted an open letter signed by journalists condemning the invasion.
“Russia’s war against Ukraine is a shame,” he wrote. “This is our shame, but unfortunately, our children will also have to bear the responsibility for it, a generation of very young and not yet born Russians.”
In response to the new law, some media outlets have ceased reporting from Russia and will report on the war from outside the country. The BBC said more Russians are tuning in for factual information.
The BBC’s Russian language news website tripled its year-to-date weekly average viewership with 10.7 million people in the last week, the outlet said earlier this week.
“It’s often said truth is the first casualty of war. In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda is rife, there is a clear need for factual and independent news people can trust – and in a significant development, millions more Russians are turning to the BBC,” Tim Davie, the BBC director-general, said in a statement. “We will continue giving the Russian people access to the truth, however we can.”