MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) – Tricolor TV, Russia’s biggest satellite television provider with over 14 million subscribers, decided Monday to exclude from its satellite package a liberal-leaning channel embroiled in a dispute over an opinion poll about World War II.
“The board of directors unanimously decided to exclude Dozhd TV from the Optimum, Maximum HD and Golden Card packages because its editorial policy opposes the desired content of these packages,” the provider said in a statement.
Tricolor TV will stop broadcasting Dozhd programming on February 10, the statement said.
A survey by Dozhd in late January that asked whether the Soviet Union should have surrendered the besieged city of Leningrad – now St. Petersburg – to the Nazis to avoid hundreds of thousands of deaths was greeted by outrage from politicians and public figures.
The dispute has also prompted several telecommunications companies carrying Dozhd, including NTV Plus and Akado, to hastily drop it from their roster of channel packages.
The poll came on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the 900-day Leningrad siege in 1944. Having claimed up to 1.5 million deaths, mostly through starvation, the siege is considered the deadliest in history.
Dozhd management apologized for the poll, but said it was used as a pretext to shut down the channel, known for its whistleblowing reports and criticism of the Kremlin.
Station director Natalya Sindeyeva has cited broadcasts on anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny’s report into countryside mansions belonging to Vyacheslav Volodin, the Kremlin’s powerful first deputy chief of staff, and other high-ranking lawmakers as a potential spur for the pressure the channel is now experiencing.
The Kremlin’s human rights advisory council has asked prosecutors to check cable and satellite companies whether they violated the Constitution by dropping the channel.