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Leading Russian Pay-TV Operators Turn Off Oppositionist Station Dozhd

A controversial WWII-related opinion poll was cited as a pretext.

MOSCOW -- Leading Russian satellite and cable operators have turned off the oppositionist network Dozhd following a controversial WWII-related opinion poll.

The satellite providers Trikolor and NTV Plus, as well as the cable operators Akado and Dom.ru, have terminated contracts with Dozhd, taking the oppositionist station off its subscription plans.

Trikolor TV issued a press release, saying that Dozhd's poll "insulted the feelings of WWII veterans." Similarly, NTV Plus said that the recent controversy over Dozhd was bad for the operator's reputation.

Other operators gave rather vague reasons for their decision. Dom.ru, for instance, said in a statement on its website that a contract with Dozhd hadn't been finalized and because of that, the station could no longer be available to Dom.ru subscribers. And Akado president Viktor Koresh was quoted by the business newspaper Vedomosti as saying that "a recent change in [Dozhd's] concept" prompted the company to take it off its subscription plans.

The controversy around Dozhd erupted earlier this month when the station ran an opinion poll on its website on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of lifting the siege of Leningrad, one of the major events of World War II in Russia. The question asked if it would have been better to give up the city, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of human lives lost during the siege of Leningrad by Nazi troops.

The station later apologized for the poll's question, promptly taking it off its site. Meanwhile, observers believed that the station's oppositionist views were the true reason for the operator's moves.

At the moment, Dozhd is only available to subscribers of Rostelekom and Vimpelcom, which provide IPTV services.

Meanwhile, the journalists' union of Russia has criticized the operators' decisions regarding Dozhd.