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TV Rain shuts down as Russian special forces threaten to storm studio

Russian TV channel Dozhd (TV Rain) has said that it is halting its work after its website was blocked and forcibly shut down by regulators in the country.

The youth-oriented channel is often critical of Russian authorities, and was shut down by the Kremlin on Thursday. 

TV Rain’s final images were a live broadcast of its staff gathered around the news desk before everyone walked off together. Staff are said to have made it out of the studio before special forces stormed the building.

The channel was shut down by Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor, which accused TV Rain of inciting protests and disrupting the public. It has long been a target of authorities, with it being removed from cable offerings in 2014. Since then, TV Rain has existed online and relied on donations.

A message for donations was shown on screen after the staff walked off, before being replaced by old footage of a performance of Swan Lake – a reference to the coup of August 1991 when news stations played footage of the ballet for three days straight.

In a statement published on the channel’s website, Natalya Sindeeva said: “We need strength to … understand how we can work from here. We really hope that we will return to broadcasting and continue our work.”

Elsewhere in Russia, one of the country’s final liberal media outlets – the radio station Ekho Moskvy – has been dissolved by its board after experiencing significant pressure over its coverage of the invasion. 

In a message on Telegram, editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said: “The Ekho Moskvy board of directors has decided by a majority of votes to liquidate the radio channel and the website of Ekho Moskvy.”

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