RIGA - Latvian politicians have once again raised the issue on the need for Latvia to host Russian media after comments made during broadcasts of the so-called Russian independent media TV Rain (Dozhd).
Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks (For Development) believes that the TV Rain team should go back to work in Russia and the employees' residence permits should be revoked, he said on Twitter. ''We have run out of patience,'' he emphasized.
On the other hand, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) has discussed this situation with the State Security Service (VDD) and the head of the National Electronic Mass Media Council, and the is currently being looked into, the minister's adviser Martins Dregeris informed LETA.
He emphasized that supporting Russian aggression in any form is unacceptable and condemnable. The adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs added that appropriate action will follow after the verification of the facts.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Saeima's Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee Didzis Smits (United List) told LETA that this matter has not yet been discussed within the committee. However, the politician gave his personal position, which he has also expressed publicly - in his opinion, Latvia should not host any Russian media. "The fact that some Russian media is against [dictator Vladimir] Putin's regime does not mean that this media is friendly to us," believes the politician.
According to him, it should be looked into who finances TV Rain. Smits admits that the Latvian authorities are aware of the channel's funding sources. However, during times of war, it is not always possible to assess who is loyal to which side, said the politician. In the parliamentarian's opinion, the media should have their license revoked, but the employees' residence permits in Latvia should be annulled.
Smits allowed that the Saeima committee headed by him could discuss the issue of TV Rain next week.
As reported, the National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) has opened an administrative offense case against Russia's independent broadcaster TV Rain (Dozhd), which has a Latvian broadcasting license, for airing appeals to help the Russian army, NEPLP chairman Ivars Abolins told LETA.
The regulator opened the probe after the appeal to provide information on the conscripted Russian soldiers' service conditions at the frontline was made on the program "Zdes i Seychas" ("Here and Now). The host of the TV program voiced hope that the TV channel had managed to help several soldiers, for instance, by providing "equipment or basic amenities at the frontline".
Abolins indicated that this is a matter of Latvia's national security, which will be dealt with according to the law.
This case can become a third serious violation TV Rain has committed in recent months. Abolins noted that for three serious violations of Latvian media regulations NEPLP can revoke the broadcaster's license.
TV Rain editor-in-chief Tikhon Dzyadko explained on Twitter that the TV channel is not involved in providing assistance to the Russian army and that the appeal made by the program's host had been misinterpreted. The actual intention, according to Dzyadko, was to gather information on crimes of Russian state authorities and army, not to provide assistance to the Russian military.
Since the TV host's phrasing of the appeal was misinterpreted, Dzyadko promised to remove it from the program when it is repeatedly shown on TV Rain.
Journalist Ekaterina Kotrikadze said on "Zdes i Seychas" Friday that Dozhd has decided to fire TV host Aleksey Korostelyov who on Thursday's program spoke about supporting the Russian army.
LETA also reported, the National Electronic Mass Media Council on Friday fined Russian independent broadcaster TV Rain with EUR 10,000.
TV Rain, which is currently based in Riga, has been penalized for including Crimea in the map of Russia and calling the Russian armed forces "our army".
TV Rain, which after Russia's invasion had temporarily suspended operations, relocated to Latvia and was issued a Latvian broadcasting license.