ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned by the ongoing harassment of Dozhd (Rain), a Moscow-based TV channel, one of Russia’s best-known sources of independent news.
On 7 December 2015, Dozhd was inspected by the Moscow Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office for alleged violations of laws on extremism and terrorism, as well as violations of the labour code and licensing law. As part of the prosecutorial check, Dozhd was ordered to provide access to all its premises, working facilities and equipment, as well as hand over dozens of internal documents, such as employee labour contracts, job descriptions, list of all foreign employees working for the company, rental contract, employee salary provisions etc. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, this occurred upon complaints received from citizens.
The TV channel, widely known for providing critical coverage of the Russian government and its policy, has previously been subject to pressure from Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications), regarding allegations of irregularities concerning its license.
In light of the importance of independent journalism for freedom of expression, ARTICLE 19, calls on the Russian authorities to comply with its international obligations, and ensure Dozhd can broadcast without fear of being harassed by the state bodies.
On 8 December 2015, ARTICLE 19 made a formal submission to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, expressing concern over the politically-motivated audit of Dozhd (Rain) TV channel office in Moscow. The submission is supported by six other international organisations.