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Moscow (AFP) - Russian authorities on Wednesday shut down a television channel serving Crimean Tatars, an ethnic group that opposed Moscow's seizure of Crimea, sparking concern in Ukraine and the West.
ATR television channel was forced off air after Russia's state media regulator refused to give it a broadcasting licence.
The move caused outrage in Kiev, with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeting: "You can shut down the channel but you cannot stop the Crimean Tatars' desire for freedom and the truth!"
A Muslim minority on the mostly Russian-speaking peninsula, the Tatars were deported en masse by Stalin to Central Asia during World War II, with nearly half dying of hunger and disease.
They only returned to Crimea at the end of Soviet rule and the 300,000-strong community was gradually gaining more rights in recent years.
The closure of a media outlet that served the minority group for nearly a decade is only the latest salvo in Russia's crackdown on the largely pro-Ukrainian community that has also included raids on the channel's offices.
"We stopped broadcasting at midnight," the channel's deputy general director, Lilya Budzhurova, told AFP.
Budzhurova, who also reports for Agence France-Presse, said the staff of more than 200 people have refused to give up.
"This is not the end," she said. "If someone thinks that they can kill the channel -- which is one of a kind in the world -- then they are mistaken."
She said the closure of the channel was a major blow for a community.
"People are awfully depressed," she said, adding that some 150-200 activists gathered in front of the channel's offices Tuesday night in a show of support.
The owner of the ATR media holding, Lenur Islyamov, said the closure was a mistake and could radicalise the community.
"It turned out that our homeland does not need us."
Authorities also shut down several other media of the same holding including a children's TV channel and two radio stations.
Islyamov, the holding's owner, said they were looking for ways to continue operations but ruled out leaving the peninsula.
"For us this option would be unacceptable because that would amount to cultural deportation."
originally posted by: SpongeBeard
a reply to: Xcathdra
as much as this sucks for the ukrainian populace, it's happened. There's nothing any individual citizen will ever be able to do to stop TPB when they've locked targets. What's that quote about holding on to hatred? That it's like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die? It sucks, but nothing can be done. Move on :\
originally posted by: Xcathdra
a reply to: TinfoilTP
With Russia violating the rights of the Tatars and Ukrainians I wonder if this gives other nations the right to invade Crimea to protect the "ethnic Tatars and Ukrainians" that Russia is now discriminating against.
Ironic Russia engages in the very behavior they lied about Ukraine doing...
originally posted by: cenpuppie
Wow, talk about trolling Russia what's up with that!
Straight dictator style too. Oh well, it is Russia. I don't think you will find many loud dissenters in that atmosphere at the moment. Being so may be hazardous to your health.
originally posted by: Laxus
You guys must seriously consider the words Deny Ignorance on this forum, nobody is doing his own research. I dont see you democracy fighters commenting on the Ukrainian side. This is the Russian channels that new "Democratically elected Goverment" banned in Ukraine :
1. Первый канал. Всемирная сеть
3. Россия 24
5. ТVCI (ТВ Центр)
6. Россия 1
9. Петербург 5
12. Life News
13. Russia Today
I havent seen a single post on this forum about that. Stop wasting your bandwidth for no reason, I come here to learn something new instead i have to read the same uneducated gossip i hear on the street and on the bus.