The Russian government has shut down one of the country's main independent television stations, saying the media outlet's financial troubles made it impossible to keep it on the air.

Russian officials switched off the signal of TVS early Sunday and replaced its broadcasts with a state-run sports channel.

Russian media reports said infighting among TVS shareholders and mounting debts caused the station's removal from Moscow's main cable network earlier this month.

But TVS editor-in-chief Yevgeny Kiselev indicated in an interview with Russia's Interfax news agency he believes the move to close the station was political in nature.

TVS was created in June 2002 from the remnants of another independent television station, TV-6, which was owned by self-exiled businessman and Putin government critic Boris Berezovsky.

Russia's three main television stations - Channel One, Rossiya and NTV - are all state-owned.