RIGA - Latvia's closing of the Russian channel TV Dozhd (Rain) was a mistake, as it is the most powerful mouthpiece against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Milov, a Russian opposition politician, vice-president of the Free Russia Foundation and adviser to Russian prisoner Alexei Navalny, told LETA in an interview on the sidelines of the Riga Conference.
"Is Dozhd really broadcasting imperial, pro-Putin or pro-war messages? No. It is the most powerful anti-Putin and anti-war mouthpiece, very important and very much in demand. Was it right to target them in this way? Now, a year later, it is clear that Latvia was wrong to do so. Dozhd is a powerful instrument in the fight against Putin. There is nothing imperial or pro-war about it, it was all fiction," Milov stressed.
He added that he understood very well the tense situation with the Russian population in Latvia, which is often imperialist and pro-Putin. At the same time, however, he is glad that "such a divorce took place", as he considers the decision of Dozhd to settle in Latvia as unfortunate because the team of the channel did not take into account these tensions with Russian speaking residents. They should have looked for a place where there was none from the very beginning, the politician said.
Milov denied that he had wanted to lecture Latvia after these events, writing that senior partners would tell Latvia what to do, as he meant the statement of the European Federation of Journalists and other such organizations.
"Here is a statement from the European Federation of Journalists which makes it clear that national security issues concerning the media in a democratic European country should not be dealt with by a media regulator. This is a matter for an independent court. The press freedom laws in Europe make this clear. That is what I meant by those words; I was waiting for that clarification. And the European Federation of Journalists gave it. I hope that this was heard in Latvia," said the Russian opposition politician.
Milov is happy that other Russian media working in Latvia have not encountered any problems. "I hope there will not be any. However, I have always warned them that because of the large pro-Putin population, these media could fall prey to tensions that are not directly related to them at all. It is their choice and I am glad that there is no problem," the politician said.
On Russian imperialism, he pointed out that Russia is not the only country that has been ruled by imperialism and that there is a lot of historical experience in defeating it.
Asked how Latvia can help Russia to change, Milov stressed that the best help would be to believe that not everyone in Russia supports Putin and his aggressive policies.