Conflicts & War

Latvian media watchdog cracks down on Russian internet websites

Riga, Mar 16 (EFE). – Latvia’s broadcast media regulator has ordered the blocking of 71 websites linked to Russian TV channels and media over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and national security concerns, local media reported.

“NEPLP does not see the possibility that such pages could be available in the territory of Latvia in these circumstances,” Ivars Abolins, chairman of the National Electronic Mass Media Council of Latvia (NEPLP) told Latvian TV Tuesday.

The Latvian regulator has not yet published an official statement listing the websites that will be blocked, but they are likely related to some 18 Russian TV channels that the agency banned from Latvia’s cable, internet and terrestrial rebroadcast networks on March 7 in response to the war in Ukraine.

Recent amendments to Latvian laws have made it possible for the media watchdog to block websites and punish individual users of devices and software for accessing banned content, Abolins said.

He said that the 71 banned websites could be joined by other internet sites as the regulator continues to monitor content that it considers a threat to national security.

Russian channels Rossija RTR, Rossija 24 and TV Centr on February 24 had stopped broadcasting in Latvia on February 24, the day president Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to enter Ukraine.

While Latvia’s public broadcasters offer content in Russian, it does not reflect the view of Moscow and the Kremlin.

Latvia’s four party nationalist coalition government has opposed creating an independent Russian broadcast service or even increasing funding of locally made Russian-language content, citing the need to preserve Latvian as the only official state language. EFE


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