MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s main independent radio station was shut down on Thursday and a major independent TV station suspended operations as Russian authorities moved forcefully to stifle criticism of Ukraine’s invasion of Ukraine. the country.
Ekho Moskvy (the Echo of Moscow) has been one of the country’s most influential and respected media outlets since its inception in 1990. With many other independent news outlets being shut down as part of a relentless government crackdown against opposition activists and independent media in In recent years, the station was the most visible critical media still standing in Russia.
The station was taken off the air Wednesday for failing to toe the official Kremlin line while covering the invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24.
On Thursday, the station’s board – controlled by its majority owner, a media arm of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom – declared Ekho Moskvy closed. Its reporters said they would continue to work on social media and YouTube.
Dozhd (Rain), a leading independent TV channel in Russia, announced on Thursday that it was suspending operations after receiving a threat of closure from authorities.
Russian officials demanded that the media cover the invasion of Ukraine strictly to the official line and quickly pounced on media outlets that described Russia’s attack on Ukraine as an “invasion” or a “war” and issued statements from the Ukrainian side.
The tough action against Russia’s few remaining independent media outlets comes amid growing anti-war sentiment in the country, despite a fierce crackdown on protests.
Protests against Ukraine’s invasion erupted across Russia for four days as more than 1.1 million people signed an online petition calling for an end to the war.
Police moved quickly to break up anti-war protests, detaining more than 8,000 participants since the invasion began, according to OVD-Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests.
In an effort to stifle critical voices, Russian authorities have also restricted access to Facebook and Twitter, which have played a significant role in amplifying dissent.
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