Russian independent broadcaster Dozhd TV announced during a live broadcast on Thursday that it would suspend its operations after Russia’s media regulator blocked its website for spreading “deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel.”
Dozhd TV had drawn the ire of Russian authorities because it used the word “invasion” to report on Russia’s war in Ukraine instead of the Russian government’s official phrasing of a “special military operation.” Last year Dozhd TV was labelled a “foreign agent.”
As Russia is set to consider legislation Friday that would impose prison terms on those convicted of disseminating “fakes,” several of Dozhd TV’s staff members decided to leave the country.
CPJ’s Gulnoza Said spoke briefly to Tikhon Dzyadko, Dozhd TV’s editor-in-chief, about the dire circumstances for the Russian press as it tries to cover the conflict. Dzyadko has left Russia but did not disclose his location for safety reasons.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Explain the decision to halt operations.
Tikhon Dzaydko: The management of Dozhd TV made a decision to temporarily stop the work of our outlet. The reason is the conditions for all Russian journalists. Russian legislators put us in such a situation that it is impossible to continue working as a journalist. Tomorrow [Friday, March 4], a new bill is set to be [considered] about allegedly fake news. It will make reporting on Ukraine practically impossible, illegal. It poses a threat to all of us, that’s why we made the decision.
A day earlier, on Wednesday, you announced your decision to leave Russia. Are you safe now?
Yes, a number of our staff members decided to leave Russia for some time because we don’t feel safe remaining there. However, some of my colleagues remain in Moscow.
How do you see the situation for Russian journalists unfolding in the coming days?
I don’t know. Only one man [Russian President Vladimir Putin] knows it, it’s in his head. But I can conclude from the situation in recent weeks — both in general and in regard to journalists — that things will develop according to the worst imaginable scenario, even previously unimagined scenarios. At Dozhd TV, we need time to think, and regroup. I can’t say how, or in what format, or when, we will resume work.