Russia’s independent news network TV Rain shut down its operations in Moscow at the beginning of March – the newsroom is empty, the broadcast signal is turned off.
The decision followed the draconian “fake news” law enacted by the Kremlin, effectively making it a crime to report the truth about the war in Ukraine. But the husband-and-wife team behind the canal said they are not deterred.
As Russia attacked the independent media, correspondent Ekaterina Kotrikadze and TV Rain editor-in-chief Tykhon Dzyadko fled to Istanbul, then-Russian neighbor Georgia.
“You risk up to 15 years in prison if you call this war a war, if you quote President Zelenksy,” Kotrikadze told DailyExpertNews’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday. “If you’re telling the truth, we had no choice.”
At the moment, TV Rain content can be found mainly on its YouTube channel. Despite government efforts to control access to information, Dzyadko said TV Rain’s live streams are watched by many Russians.
“People are asking to give them an alternative source of information so as not to depend on this Russian propaganda machine,” Kotrikadze said.
DailyExpertNews’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter asked if, rather than the lack of access to independent news in Russia, there was a lack of demand from Russians to know what’s really going on in Ukraine.
Kotrikadze said the Kremlin’s “dictatorship regime” that the majority of Russians support the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine is “not true”.
“I was amazed at the number of people who texted us in direct messages on social media and also by comments on our various accounts,” said Kotrikadze.
Despite the dangers facing the press in Russia, both Kotrikadze and Dzyadko said they couldn’t imagine working in any other industry.
“We have a huge responsibility to our viewers who have supported us for more than 12 years,” said Dzyadko.