Prosecutor Launches Probe of TV Rain

January 31, 2014

The prosecutor’s office of St. Petersburg has launched a probe of TV Rain over a poll dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the Leningrad Blockade, the prosecutor’s website reported. The probe was initiated in response to complaints from survivors of the Blockade, outraged at TV Rain’s question: “Should Leningrad have surrendered, in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives?”

“The St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office is checking for possible violations. Did the television channel cross the line of the permissible before the memorable date of the final lifting of the Blockade?!” the report states. The Prosecutor’s Office noted that veterans of the war “were outraged at the scandalous survey by TV Rain.”

“It is blasphemy to ask such a question, in a country, that suffered the greatest casualties, in order to defeat fascism and liberate the world from fascism,” the prosecutor’s office said, citing a complain from veterans [1. the punctuation in the original is preserved].

On January 29, the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg appealed to Yury Chaika, Prosecutor General of Russia, with a request to punish TV Rain “up to closure.” The deputies stated that the poll offended the memory of those people who died in the Blockade. Roskomnadzor [State Communications Supervision] is also conducting its own examination of the incident. The agency has already noted that the incident is more likely “in the moral and ethical dimension” than the legal dimension.

The news came out on January 29 that several cable operators, including Akado, Rostelekom and NTV-Plus had dropped TV Rain from its packages. But social network users reported that Rostelekom and NTV-Plus restored TV Rain after a certain time. Trikolor TV, the largest operator of paid television announced that it did not plan to drop TV Rain from its networks.

Internet users massively condemned the shut-down of TV Rain’s broadcasting, and called for a boycott of the operators who had dropped the television channel. Commenting on the operators’ actions, Natalya Sindeyeva, general director of TV Rain, announced that they had acted upon orders from above and that the question of shutting down the television station was exclusively in the political and not the legal domain. Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov announced that TV Rain “had crossed all borders of the permissible,” however noted that the poll, in his view, was not a violation of any law.