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Exiled Russian TV Station’s Reference to Troops Causes Fury in Latvia

  • December 06, 2022

TV Rain has 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube. Around 18 to 22 million unique visitors view its YouTube channel alone every month, with up to 80 percent of them from inside Russia, said Tikhon Dzyadko, the station’s editor in chief. It also has a cable channel in five countries with large Russian-speaking populations.

The loss of the license has cost TV Rain its access to the Latvian cable network, and its YouTube channel inside Latvia could also be banned, said Ms. Krichevskaya, the TV Rain co-founder. She added, though, that TV Rain would continue streaming on social media in other countries until it obtains a new license.

One topic that has strongly resonated with the station’s viewers is President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to mobilize at least 300,000 Russian men to replace his military losses in Ukraine. That decision has confronted millions of Russians with the reality of the war, which many had previously ignored or downplayed.

Since the start of the mobilization in September, TV Rain’s audience has grown fivefold, Ms. Krichevskaya said, pointing out that the silence on state TV caused Russians to flock to TV Rain to find out who was being called up and what awaited them at the front.

She added that by covering the mobilization, TV Rain could reach beyond opposition supporters to the apolitical majority of Russian people. As the channel focused its efforts on documenting mounting cases of draft irregularities and the inhumane living conditions of the mobilized men, its journalists felt, she said, as if they had begun contributing toward their overarching professional goal: stopping the war.

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Korostelev, the correspondent, said that in his appeal he had been trying to help conscripted Russian men by collecting information on the wrongdoings of authorities, and then documenting the cases. He was not soliciting matériel for them, he added.

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