15 April 2014, 19:33

Latvia bans Russian state TV turning a blind eye to own national policy failure

Latvia bans Russian state TV turning a blind eye to own national policy failure

Latvia has placed a ban on Russian state television broadcasts for a three-month time period, which officially started on April, 8. According to the country's media watchdog, Russian RTR programs are "biased" and "likely aimed to incite discord." However, according to TNS research agency, half of the eight most popular television channels in Latvia belong to Russia.

It should be noted that the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have large Russian-speaking populations. State officials are concerned about the Kremlin's declaration that it's going to protect the interests of ethnical Russians abroad. Indeed, the Russian speaking community in the Baltic countries faces hardships and discrimination due to the unbalanced and insufficient national policy of the authorities. Moreover, an annual Waffen-SS parade commemorating Nazi collaborators has been held in the Latvian capital for nearly two decades. The Latvian Waffen-SS legion was actively used by Nazi Germany in punitive raids against the Russian, Belarussian and Jewish civil population. Latvian Russian-speakers consider the event an immoral abuse of the memory of numerous victims of Nazism.

However the Latvian government prefers to turn a blind eye to its domestic national policy failure, insisting that Russian state television is responsible for the social discord.

According to the BBC, polls indicated that about 66 percent of Russian speakers in Latvia are convinced that Russia should interfere with Latvia's domestic affairs to protect minorities. Latvian officials insist that this is the result of Russia's TV "brainwashing techniques." They claim that Russian RTR programs pose a significant threat to Latvian national security.

The other reason for the decision to ban Russia's state television broadcasting, is, according to Latvian officials, the "biased" coverage of Ukrainian affairs, particularly due to the fact that Russia is "questioning the legitimacy of Ukrainian authorities."

Russian Foreign Ministry envoy for human rights Konstantin Dolgov denounced Latvia's decision. He said, cited by the Associated Press, that Latvia's ban is "the latest attempt to censor inconvenient information and a violation of fundamental rights on access to mass media."

Meanwhile, Latvia has announced that it will create its own television channel for its Russian-speaking minority. LTV Board Chairman Ivars Belte says that such a project will become the best way to win over the Russian audience in Latvia. The approximate cost of the project is more than two and a half million dollars. The government has approved the idea of the project however, has not approved its financing yet.

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