MOSCOW — Echo of Moscow radio, for decades the voice of Russia’s liberal intelligentsia, went silent Tuesday.
Russian authorities, who have banned media from calling Putin’s “special military operation” against Ukraine a war, an invasion or attacks, blocked two independent news outlets Tuesday that were reporting the reality of the war, Echo of Moscow and Dozhd television.
Russia’s tech and communications regulator Roskomnadzor said the two outlets were blocked at the request of Russia’s prosecutor general for “intentionally and systematically posting information containing false information regarding the essence of a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine.”
It cited their reporting on the methods of conducting hostilities, Russian and civilian casualties, and shelling, as well as their broadcasting of calls for protests.
Echo of Moscow’s editor in chief, Alexei Venediktov, said the station would appeal the ban, although in Russia’s highly politicized court system, the chances of reversing the decision seemed remote. It was not clear when and if they would be able to resume broadcasting.
“The editorial team will challenge this decision in courts. We see a political component in it, as well as the imposition of censorship, which is directly prohibited by the Russian constitution,” he said. The stations were still available on YouTube.
Echo of Moscow, which became well-known in 1991 shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, has long espoused democracy and liberalism in Russia, and played a prominent role in covering Russian wars in the past, including the two Chechen wars Moscow waged to quell a rebellion in Chechnya, which involved massive civilian and military casualties, indiscriminate shelling, and bomb attacks on residential areas. It claims an audience of around 1 million in Moscow and 7 million nationally.
An independent newspaper also threatened by authorities, Novaya Gazeta, began using the Kremlin-approved terminology with an annotation that this was being done because authorities demanded it.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry official Oleg Gavrilov said U.S. tech giants Google and Meta were “openly conducting hostile propaganda,” while restricting access to Russian state media reporting.