Oppositionist Russian TV Station Dozhd Won't Close Down

The network was recently turned off by all major, local pay-TV operators.

MOSCOW -- The oppositionist Russian TV channel Dozhd, recently turned off by all major local pay-TV operators, won't close down, the company's management said.

"We won't close the station down," general director Natalya Sindeyeva told a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

"We are announcing a naive and optimistic strategy," added Alexander Vinokurov, the channel's owner. "Despite our failure to understand what is going on, we will continue our negotiations with the operators until we are able to return to their networks."

He added that the decisions to turn off Dozhd were made under pressure, but he wouldn't say who exactly exerted the pressure.

Over the last few days, all major Russian satellite and cable operators have removed Dozhd from their subscription plans following a controversy over an opinion poll published on the station's web site 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 poll's question of whether it would have been better to give up the city, thereby saving the hundreds of thousands of human lives lost during the siege, was considered to be insulting to WWII veterans.

However, according to Dozhd's owner, the opinion poll was just a pretext for a crackdown on the station, other content on which could have upset some people in power. "We felt attention to our content after [opposition activist and anti-corruption blogger Alexei] Navalny published information about dachas of [ruling party] Edinaya Rossiya's members," Vinokurov said.

Meanwhile, the network's owner and management are determined to stay in business.

"If I have to, I will personally address [President Vladimir] Putin to figure out what to do next," Sindeyeva said.