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Russian Radio Station Taken Off Air Over Ukraine Coverage 


Policemen work inside the office of Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, after an intruder attacked the station's anchor in Moscow, Oct. 23, 2017.

A Russian radio station critical of the Kremlin was taken off the airwaves on Tuesday, its chief editor said and The Associated Press confirmed, after authorities threatened to shut it down over its coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The move against Ekho Moskvy, one of Russia's oldest radio stations, comes amid growing pressure on Russia's independent media to follow the Kremlin's official line while covering the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian authorities also threatened to block Dozhd, Russia's top independent TV channel. The Prosecutor General's office accused the two media outlets of spreading content that incites extremist activities, as well as "false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation" in Ukraine.

The Prosecutor General's office said actions taken against the two outlets would include "immediate shutdown."

The websites of Ekho Moskvy and Dozhd remained available to internet users in Moscow on Tuesday evening. However, Russia's communications and media watchdog Roskomnadzor confirmed to the Interfax news agency that it restricted access to the sites.

Alexei Venediktov, chief editor of Ekho Moskvy, rejected the accusations, saying they "are not supported by any examples, any evidence (and) are unfounded and offensive to journalists and citizens of Russia."

The station "will contest this decision in court," Venediktov said.

"We see a political component in it, as well as the introduction of censorship, which is directly prohibited by the Russian Constitution," he said.

Dozhd issued a statement rejecting the accusations against the TV channel, saying it "strictly follows Russian laws in its coverage."

Shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine last Thursday, Russian officials threatened independent media with closure if their coverage of the attack deviated from the official narrative, including describing the assault as an "invasion" or a "war."

The website of the Current Time, a Russian TV channel launched by the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that also has been critical of the Kremlin, became unavailable Sunday after the channel reported receiving a notification from the authorities.

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