The website of a Melbourne radio station accused of broadcasting Russian war propaganda has gone black.
Melbourne-based radio station 3ZZZ appears to have shut down its website following reports that it was allowing wartime propaganda to be broadcast on its Russian news programme.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is currently investigating the ethnic community station after receiving multiple complaints about its Russian programme, which had a one-hour slot on Wednesday evenings and another on Fridays.
The program has been accused of spreading misinformation about the conflict in Ukraine and espousing pro-Kremlin sentiment, as well as pushing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for war.
In an email exchange between a Ukrainian-born Russian-speaking Victorian and 3ZZZ – seen by the Herald Sun – the radio station responded to concerns by saying it would take six weeks to review its content.
Each time a new complaint was filed, the radio station warned that it would reset the six-week clock.
Its website now appears to have been shut down. It is not clear if this is a temporary measure.
Previous episodes of the Russian news program were available on the website before the shutdown.
It is not yet clear whether 3ZZZ’s lineup of other news programs could suffer from an investigation into the controversial Russian show.
The radio station also airs a Ukrainian news program, with Liana Slipetsky, a member of the Ukrainian Association of Victoria, who recently told the Herald Sun that her hosts were concerned.
“What respect does that show them?” If 3ZZZ wants any respect, they also need to show respect to the Ukrainians who broadcast there,” Ms. Slipetsky said.
A broadcaster for the radio station’s Turkish program was unaware of the website shutdown on Saturday morning, but said he expected to produce the show as usual.
The Russian program reportedly played a song containing derogatory lyrics about the Ukrainian people and politicians, claimed that the Russian military did not attack Ukrainian cities, and broadcast Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion.
In a statement, the ACMA confirmed it had received four complaints about the broadcasts.
“We are concerned about the issues raised and are currently reviewing the matter, including reviewing the content of two episodes of the program,” a spokesperson said.
“At the same time, we have been in contact with the broadcaster and have urged them to expedite their response to the matter.”
The Community Broadcasters Association of Australia has also been in contact with the broadcaster.
The war in Ukraine is in its fourth week and Moscow has stepped up its information war against the West to justify its actions.
Russian-speaker Rost Vashevnik, who has lived in Australia for 34 years, said he listened to the programs in question.
“I listen to this garbage twice a week,” he told the Herald Sun.
“I analyze and find sufficient new evidence of propaganda.”
Following multiple complaints, the radio station reportedly told the complainants there was a six-week deadline for the review.
The Ukrainian Association of Victoria said 3ZZZ’s six-week exam policy was “disgusting” and held its bosses to account.
“We are Australia, we are democratic, we know the truth,” Ms Slipetsky said.
“In extreme times, like what we are currently experiencing, I don’t think complaints about Russian propaganda should take a back seat.”
Earlier this month, anti-war protests erupted in major cities around the world, including a rally that drew thousands to Melbourne.
People identifying with Russia were also seen in the crowd showing their support for Ukraine and distancing themselves from the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A Russian at the Melbourne protest went to extraordinary lengths to show his support for Ukraine, going so far as to set his passport on fire in an act of defiance.
In the vision posted on social media, former Russian citizen Andrei was visibly shaking as pieces of ash fell to the ground outside Treasury Gardens.
Asked by a passerby if he was denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin, he simply replied: “Absolutely, yes.”
“Curse him and everything he stands for,” Andrei said.
“I hope he won’t live much longer.”