MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian radio station critical of the Kremlin was taken off the air Tuesday, its editor said and the Associated Press confirmed after authorities threatened to shut it down for its coverage of the Russian invasion. from Ukraine.
The ruling against Echo Moskvy, one of Russia’s oldest radio stations, comes amid growing pressure on Russia’s independent media to toe the official Kremlin line while covering the invasion of Ukraine .
Russian authorities have also threatened to block Dozhd, Russia’s first independent television channel. The prosecutor general’s office accused the two outlets of disseminating content inciting extremist activities, as well as “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukraine.
The attorney general’s office said action against the two outlets would include an “immediate closure.”
The sites of Ekho Moskvy and Dozhd remained accessible to Internet users in Moscow on Tuesday evening. However, Russia’s communications and media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, confirmed to the Interfax news agency that it was restricting access to the sites.
Alexei Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy, dismissed the charges, saying they “are not supported by any example, no evidence (and) are unfounded and offensive to Russian journalists and citizens.”
The station “will challenge this decision in court,” Venediktov said.
“We see a political component in it, as well as the introduction of censorship, which is directly prohibited by the Russian Constitution,” he said.
Dozhd released a statement denying the charges against the broadcaster, saying it “strictly follows Russian laws in its coverage.”
Shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine last Thursday, Russian officials threatened to shut down independent media if their coverage of the attack deviated from the official narrative, including calling the assault an “invasion or “war”.
The website of Current Time, a Russian television channel launched by US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that has also criticized the Kremlin, went unavailable on Sunday after the channel reported receiving a notification from authorities .