Latvia has revoked the broadcasting license of TV Rain, Russia’s most prominent independent television channel, after a correspondent’s unscripted call to provide unspecified aid to Russian soldiers
The issue has engulfed TV Rain in perhaps the biggest crisis of its turbulent 12-year history, with Latvian and Ukrainian commentators accusing the station of supporting Russia’s war effort. Since making the comments, the journalist has lost his job and the national security agency has begun investigating the station on suspicion of aiding a sanctioned state.
Journalists at TV Rain joined hundreds of Russian peers in exile after the invasion of Ukraine in February and as the Kremlin cracked down on domestic dissent. Eventually, they settled in neighboring Latvia, where they continued to counter the Kremlin’s propaganda and denounce its aggression to millions of viewers back home.
The controversy began after Thursday’s live evening news show, when the correspondent, Aleksey Korostelev, a well-known TV Rain news host, asked viewers to send information on conscripted Russian soldiers to a tip line that the channel had established months earlier to publicize irregularities in the mobilization effort.
“We hope that we were able to help many servicemen, among others, with equipment or just elementary amenities at the front,” he added.
The response was swift.
“When ‘good Russians’ are helping ‘bad Russians’ — can the world understand finally that they are all the same?” wrote Ukraine’s culture minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko.
The revoking of the station’s license came after an investigation into Mr. Korostelev’s remarks. The media regulator said that his comment was TV Rain’s third violation of its rules, adding that it had received classified information about the channel’s activities from the state security agency.
The controversy exposes how Russian political exiles are struggling to find a role in the conflict unleashed by their nation, particularly in Eastern European states like Latvia, which were once controlled by Moscow. In those countries, support for Ukraine is partly driven by fears of Russian aggression and suspicion of their own ethnic Russian minorities, and plays out against a historical backdrop of hardships endured under the Soviet Union.