The decision is based on the identification of four significant violations of the law related to incitement to hatred, incitement to violence and military conflict.
The NEMMC has found that information presented in several broadcasts of Rossija RTR also clearly violates Article 6 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and Section 26(3) and (4) of the Electronic Mass Media Law prohibiting incitement to hatred or discrimination against any person or group of persons on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, nationality, religion or belief, disability, age or other circumstances, and calling for war or military conflict.
The ban on retransmission of "Rossija RTR" in the territory of Latvia will come into force on February 15, giving cable operators a week to withdraw the channel from their offer. The last time NEMMC banned the retransmission of "Rossija RTR" on 31 January 2019 for three months.
“Channels that incite hatred and call for war have no place in the territory of Latvia. "Rossiya RTR", considered the Kremlin's main propaganda TV outlet, has crossed the line and we have always defended and will continue to defend our information space,” argues Ivars Āboliņš, the Chairman of the NEMMC.
Rossija RTR is a channel registered in Sweden and the NEMMC’s decision was taken in accordance with the procedure laid down in the European Union's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, informing “Rossija RTR”, the European Commission, and the Swedish media regulator.
The first infringement was detected in broadcast "60 minut" transmitted on 10 July 2020. During the broadcast, the participants of the discussion and the host of the broadcast, Olga Skabeyeva, called Ukraine a terrorist country and its former president, Petro Poroshenko, a terrorist. Assessing the narrative of the broadcast as a whole, it can be concluded that it is derogatory to the Ukrainian people. Given that none of the named subjects has been officially recognized as a terrorist, as well as the derogatory attitude of the host and participants towards the Ukrainians, the broadcast shows signs of incitement to hatred. Such statements were publicly argued by the participants of the discussion and, most important, unacceptable and editorially unjustifiable, the same statements with signs of incitement to hatred were also voiced by the electronic media journalist, host of the broadcast Skabeyeva.
The second infringement was detected in broadcast "60 minutes" transmitted on 17 September 2020. The show was hosted by Yevgeni Popov. Throughout the broadcast, it was not only argued that the countries of the former Soviet Union are completely incapable and have failed and should be despised, but there were also statements containing military threats, for example, “We (Russia) can now claim these territories (Lithuanian cities Vilnius, Klaipeda and the northern part of Poland); Narva needs to be annexed to Russia, because there are only Russians there; the Latvian city of Jekabpils is also supposedly a Russian city.” The broadcast also states that “missiles must be deployed at the borders, because they are all scared and our (apparently Russian) tank tracks must make them respect us”, it is also necessary for “our (apparently Russian) planes to take off and go to Berlin, to Stockholm”.
The third infringement was found in “60 minutes” broadcast transmitted on 21 October 2020. The broadcast was hosted by Yevgeni Popov and Olga Skabeyeva, and its statements contained derogatory commentaries about the Belarusian people, incitement to hatred, as well as open incitement to violence. For example, the broadcast stated that “they need to bring her (Belarusian opposition spokeswoman, Sviatlana Tikhanovskaya) from Lithuania back to Minsk, then a tribunal and hang her in the centre of Minsk for all to see.” Rude and derogatory comments were made about the spokeswoman of the Belarusian opposition: “(..) some sort of a “bitch”? Just look at that disgusting face. What a witch, what a monster! Just look at her face,” thus insulting not only the spokeswoman of the opposition, but also the part of the Belarusian nation that identifies itself with the opposition and wants to see changes in the country. Military threats are also expressed during the broadcast: “One million, ten million, one hundred million will be destroyed. There will be no capitals, neither Kiev nor Brussels (..) as Kiev stands today, it is better to destroy it and then rebuild.”
The fourth infringement was found in broadcast "Voskrejnij večer c Vladimirom Solovjovom" transmitted on 6 December 2020. The show is hosted by Vladimir Solovyov and takes the view that it would be better if the Soviet Union was preserved. Among other things, the broadcast also called for war: “We need a new society, we need a new way of thinking and we need a small victorious war [..]”. Asked by the host of the broadcast to give more explanation, it was proposed to restore Russia's Western borders on the pretext that there are violations against the Russian people and language; there is a call to restore the borders as they were on 1 January 1990, but NATO will remain silent, because they do not care one bit about Baltics and everyone else. It was also argued that “a breakthrough is needed on the ground so that under the roar of our (Russian) tanks, BTR, planes, we (Russians) would go somewhere, defend someone and celebrate it as a victory.”
The host of the broadcast, Solovyov, repeatedly was very aggressive and hostile towards the guests of the broadcast representing the Ukrainian side and Ukrainians themselves, voicing offensive and rude accusations. He said: “You (Ukrainians) are Nazi zeros (мрази). The West will never impose any sanctions on you (Ukraine), but I hope that we (Russia) will punish you and then you will actually tremble.”
The decision of the council is available here.
The NEMMC expresses special gratitude to Kārlis Litaunieks, a senior expert of the Monitoring Department, for his hard work in monitoring this broadcast and moving the decision forward.