Latvia's Ban Of 16 Russian TV Channels Prompts Demonstration In Downtown Riga

Latvia's Ban of 16 Russian TV Channels Prompts Demonstration in Downtown Riga

RIGA (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 12th February, 2021) A sit-in picket, led by former member of European Parliament Miroslav Mitrofanov, took place in front of the Latvian media watchdog's office in central Riga on Friday to protest the ban of 16 Russian television channels, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

On Tuesday, Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP) prohibited 16 Russian channels from airing in the country for one year over authorization red tape. The banned broadcasters included such brands as REN tv Baltic, NTV Mir Baltic, and Karusel International.

"We cannot simply remain silent, therefore we came here today despite the mass assembly restrictions. I believe that depriving people of access to official sources of information in their mother tongue is plain unacceptable, especially during such a complicated period as amid a pandemic. The Latvian authorities' [decision] was arbitrary and harmful," Mitrofanov, who currently chairs the Latvian Russian Union, told journalists.

Protesters brought laptops, set on chairs outside the watchdog office's windows 2 meters apart from one another and began watching the forbidden television channels, as reported by the Sputnik correspondent.

The ban is just another episode on a long string of restrictions imposed on Russian media in the Baltic countries in recent years. Moscow slammed Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for ganging up against Russian journalists despite their formal pledge of commitment to the freedom of expression.

On Monday, the NEPLP slapped a one-year rebroadcast ban on the RTR-Planeta (Russia-RTR) channel. On February 1, the watchdog prohibited the largest Latvian cable provider, Tet, from rebroadcasting Russian television channels PBK, NTV Mir, Ren TV Baltiya, Kinokomedia and Kinomiks, citing EU sanctions, even though those were not supposed to apply to these broadcasters.