The iconic Russian liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) has been disbanded after violating Russian censorship of coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Ekho’s board voted to liquidate the station after Russia’s state censorship watchdog ordered its website blocked for spreading “deliberately false information about the actions of the Russian military personnel” as well as “information calling for extremist activities” and “violence”. The station’s broadcast was discontinued shortly thereafter.
The watchdog, Roskomnadzor, previously told media covering the war in Ukraine to use only official Defense Ministry information, and banned words like “invasion”, “war” and “offensive” in favor of Russia’s favorite “special operation”.
Founded in 1990 during the last days of the Soviet Union, Ekho Moskvy became a beacon for Russian democrats and liberals.
Unstuck only once before – during August’s extremist communist coup in 1991 – the station has endured even as Russia took a sharp authoritarian turn.
Owned by the media arm of gas giant Gazprom and run by veteran editor Alexei Venediktov, the station has maintained a delicate balance between remaining relatively free and uncensored, and maintaining its ties to the Kremlin.
Venediktov’s own ties to the political elite – including his role in promoting a controversial electronic voting system for State Duma elections last year – saw him reviled by much of the Russian anti-Kremlin opposition.