Russian State-Run Networks Kicked Off Ukraine Cable

6:11 AM PST 03/27/2014 by Vladimir Kozlov
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Ukraine's leading cable company complies with a court order to dump Kremlin-friendly channels, replacing them with Russian oppositionist station Dozhd.

As tensions continue to rise between Moscow and Kiev, Ukraine's largest cable provider has dumped state-backed Russian networks from its service, complying with a court ruling this week that requires broadcasters to cut access to channels viewed as being friendly to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Instead, cable operator Volya, which accounts for around 20 percent of Ukraine's pay TV market, will begin carrying embattled Russian oppositionist station Dozhd.

"On March 25, the Kiev district court ruled that broadcasting of the TV networks NTV Mir, RTR Planeta, Channel One and Vsemirnaya Set be suspended," the cable operator said in a statement published on its website, adding that it had to comply with the court decision and cut off the Russian networks.

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Volya said that the three Russian stations are shortly to be replaced in subscription packages with other networks, including the oppositionist Russian station Dozhd.

"We are conducting urgent negotiations with other networks, and we are glad to announce that the networks Dozhd, Espreso TV and Trofey are to be added to the subscription packages Start and Optimum," Volya said.

Most Russian pay TV operators cut off Dozhd earlier this year in a move the channel's owners say was politically motivated because of Dozhd's anti-Putin reporting.

The cutting off of the Russian channels comes as part of an "information war" between Russia and Ukraine, as tensions between the two countries over Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsular region of Crimea are escalating. The two countries have repeatedly condemned each other's media for biased coverage of the situation.

Most recently, Ukraine's Council for National Security and Defense initiated a probe into the operation of Russian networks on Ukraine's territory, accusing them of "spreading information that poses a threat to Ukraine's national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Russia's foreign ministry shrugged off all the accusations against the Russian TV networks.

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