Last desperate attempt to save Crimean Tatar TV channel
Less than a week is left until two vital – and independent – media resources face closure in Russian-occupied Crimea. The Crimean News Agency QHA has been openly refused registration, and it is extremely likely that TV ATR, the only Crimean Tatar television channel in the world, will be forced off air.
ATR is launching an ongoing marathon under the title “Don’t Kill ATR11!”, beginning at 18.00 on Wednesday and from then on from 12.00 to 21.30 every evening until March 31.
ATR has appealed to Russian politicians, including to the President Vladimir Putin to ensure that the channel is not driven out of Crimea, but the situation is by now critical. The Russian-installed leader Sergei Aksyonov openly stated last week that those who – in his words – ‘incite conflict’ and give people hope that Russia’s occupation will end will not be able to work in Crimea. He specifically attacked (and not for the first time) ATR, claiming that the management was escalating the situation in Crimea. “The management of the channel has been told that (it is unacceptable) to escalate the situation and arouse a feeling of tension among the population, linked with the fact that the channel gives hope of Crimea’s return to Ukraine, inciting other people to action, and speaks of how later those who received Russian passports will be dealt with. The work of such channels at the present semi-war time is unacceptable”, Aksyonov said.
Russia’s media regulatory body Roskomnadzor has been less open, using various pretexts since last September to not re-register ATR according to Russian legislation. If this does not happen before April 1, the channel will be forced off air. (More details here)
The Committee to Protect Journalistsin defence of both media and expressed “alarm at the deteriorating media climate in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that was annexed by Russia last year.”
Last Wednesday, CPJ sent an official request to Roskomnadzor, asking the media agency to clarify its reasons for denying registration and to explain the meaning of the term "left without review." CPJ writes that by March 19 they had received no reply and reports that “the climate for press freedom in Crimea has steadily deteriorated since March 2014”, with journalistsHalya Coynash , , and , while news outlets have been and taken off the air”.