EU state bans ex-host of Russian TV channel — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

Aleksey Korostelyov, a longtime anchor at the liberal channel TV Dozhd, was previously fired after calling Russian troops “our army”

Latvian Interior Minister Kristaps Eklons has barred former TV host Aleksey Korostelyov from entering the nation’s territory after a request from the national security service, Latvian media reported on Friday.

Previously, Korostelyov had been fired from the Latvia-based Russian liberal channel TV Dozhd (Rain) following an on-air scandal. The channel itself was then also banned by Riga.

According to media reports, Korostelyov was put on a so-called “blacklist” barring him from entering Latvia. The journalist, who is based in Georgia, does not hold a Latvian visa or a residence permit and cannot be prosecuted in Latvia, the reports added.

Korostelyov found himself at the center of a media controversy last week when he referred to Russian troops as “our army” while on air and said he hoped his channel “helped” many of them by supplying “equipment and basic comforts on the frontline.”

Following an outcry from both Latvia and Ukraine, the longtime anchor at the channel apologized by claiming he misspoke but was nevertheless immediately fired. TV Dozhd’s editor-in-chief then issued a public apology and assured that the channel was in no way supporting Moscow.

The move did not stop Latvia from revoking the network’s license on “national security grounds.” The channel was also shut down in neighboring Lithuania and Estonia. The Baltic Delfi news media outlet reported that any information “calling on the public to support” what it called “Russian occupation forces” was “unacceptable” in Latvia.

Statements made by the former TV Dozhd anchor thus “contravene Latvia’s national interests” by “encouraging public compassion” towards the Russian forces, Delfi added, citing an “assessment” made by the Latvian security service.

TV Dozhd was launched in 2010 and featured hosts and guests highly critical of the Russian government. In March, Moscow banned the channel over allegedly disseminating “deliberate lies” about the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Many of its staff members then moved out of Russia and its studio reopened in the Latvian capital of Riga in mid-June.

Latvia’s decision to ban TV Dozhd has faced some criticism, including from Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which demanded Riga provide clarification for the “national security” reasons it used to justify the move.

The Kremlin commented on the media scandal by saying it should end “illusions” about press freedom in the West.

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