The Russian justice ministry has classified network TV Rain (Dozhd) as a ‘foreign agent’.
On the eve of next month’s parliamentary election, the Kremlin is looking to crack down on media that is critical of the ruling party United Russia and president Vladmir Putin.
TV Rain, which was previously blacklisted by cable operators in 2014 and subsequently banned from Ukraine, operates behind a paywall online and serves as a platform for critics of the regime who are unable to express their views on state TV.
But despite being founded and operated in Russia, the government has still branded it as a ‘foreign agent’ – a brand it uses to label foreign-funded organisations engaged in political activity.
The broadcaster’s chief editor, Tikhon Dzyadko, however has disputed the claim and said that financial reports are freely available on its website.
In a social media post, the editor added: “The position is very simple. The Dozhd TV channel is not a foreign agent. Moreover, the Dozhd TV channel is not any other agent, The Dozhd TV channel is a Russian media.”
Being branded as a foreign agent has previously made it nearly impossible for broadcasters to find sponsorship and advertisers, and many have been forced to shut down as a result.