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Moscow Court Rejects Ekho Moskvy's Appeal Against Broadcasting Restrictions


FILE - Alexei Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, makes a statement after an intruder attacked the station's anchor Tatyana Felgengauer in Moscow, Russia October 23, 2017.

A court in Moscow has rejected an appeal by the independent radio station Ekho Moskvy against moves by the government to restrict the broadcaster's reach, which led to its decision to close.

The Taganka district court on April 20 refused to recognize as illegal the decision by Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, to restrict access to Ekho Moskvy's website on March 1 at the Prosecutor-General’s request.

Judge Nadezhda Kiselyova said statements by Ekho Moskvy's lawyers -- which maintained that the Prosecutor-General's request failed to specify which programs at the station violated Russian laws -- were baseless and thus the appeal had been turned down.

In its March request, the Prosecutor-General's Office said the broadcaster, known to be critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was distributing what authorities deemed information "calling for extremist activities, violence, and premeditated false information" about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian government has instructed media in the country to refrain from calling Russia's actions in Ukraine a war or an invasion and should instead be referred to as a "special military operation."

Soon after the move by the Prosecutor-General's Office, Ekho Moskvy's board decided to liquidate the radio station and its website.

Ekho Moskvy first aired on August 22, 1990, in Moscow.

Before Russia launched its war with Ukraine on February 24, the station had been taken off the air only once, during the State Committee for the Emergency Situation (GKChP) coup in 1991.

Several Russian media outlets have chosen to suspend operations rather than face heavy restrictions on what they can report. The Kremlin has also blocked multiple foreign news outlets, including RFE/RL, for their independent coverage of the war.

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