One of Russia's Last Politically Independent TV Stations to End Broadcasts

Associated Press
An aerial view of Moscow, Russia.

Tomsk TV2 will lose its license weeks after its terrestrial signal was cut.

One of Russia's last politically independent television stations, TV2 in Tomsk, Siberia, is to lose its license five weeks after a state transmission service forced it to end terrestrial services.

The pioneering station has been broadcasting on cable but will fall silent Feb. 8 after losing a battle to keep its license.

The move will silence TV2 just months before it was due to celebrate its 25th anniversary after regional authorities ignored repeated demonstrations of support by local residents.

Last Sunday more than 4,000 people took to the streets of Tomsk, an ancient Siberian city 2,235 miles east of Moscow, to show their support for the broadcaster.

It failed to sway authorities to review a decision not to renew the station's license. A court hearing due Jan. 29 was postponed until late February, effectively closing the company when the cable signals switched off.

Station chiefs dismissed arguments by the regional arm of state transmission service Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRS) that it was taken off the air because of a contractual dispute.

Viktor Muchnik, the station's editor in chief, says political motives were behind the closure.

"Some people do not like some of our reports," he told the BBC's Russian Service. "Local government often discusses our reports. And many of the reports on everyday issues are considered political. I cannot say who exactly is annoyed with our reports, but certain law enforcement agencies sent letters about us to the top.”

Founded in November 1990 and on air since May 1991, the multi-award-winning station earned a reputation for fearless, balanced reporting.

A year ago it was the only TV station in Russia that broadcast Putin’s Games, a German-made documentary that exposed corruption surrounding the Sochi Winter Olympics.