Russian TV ups Central Asian presence

News TV channel Vesti launched in Kyrgyzstan

MOSCOW -- Russian state-run television is stepping up its presence in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

News TV channel Vesti has been launched in Kyrgyzstan, which became the first foreign country where the channel is available on a free-to-air basis, VGTRK, a state-controlled broadcasting group said Friday.

A spokesperson for the channel told The Hollywood Reporter that negotiations with other countries about broadcasting Vesti are in progress but she wouldn’t specify which particular countries. In the meantime, Vesti, which is focused on Russian and international news, is available abroad as part of such satellite packages as DirecTV and Hot Bird.

Vesti’s chief editor, Dmitry Mednikov, said that the launch of the channel was initiated by the Kyrgyz side and that more television projects with that country are under discussion, the Russian business newspaper RBC Daily reported.

Russian TV channels don’t broadcast free-to-air in most former Soviet republics, except for Belarus, and in recent months, restrictions on Russian satellite channels have been introduced or discussed in several countries, including Ukraine and Armenia.