Russia's last independent TV channel relaunches after block over Ukraine war coverage

Journalists work in a news room of the Dozhd TV channel before it was banned. Credit: AP

Russia's last independent TV channel is back on the air, more than four months after being forced to close over its coverage relating to the war in Ukraine.

Dozhd (TV Rain) resumed broadcasting from Latvia on Monday, streaming a news programme on its YouTube channel, a platform which is not censored in Russia.

YouTube is likely to be the only way most people in Russia will be able to see the channel's output.

Dozhd said it would be working from studios in Latvia, France and the Netherlands, having received a European Union broadcasting licence, as well as Georgia.

"Due to the repressive laws and military censorship adopted in Russia, we were forced to leave our homes. Now we are resuming our work from outside the country," a statement issued by Dozhd read.

In March, Dozhd was barred by the Putin government after they referred to the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine as a "war".

Dozhd said at the time that it was “temporarily suspending” operations, with staff seen walking out during a YouTube stream, signing off with the words "no war".

Many employees subsequently fled Russia, including to Georgia, where a lot of Russians uncomfortable with the invasion have moved since February.

Russian legislation criminalises the spreading of so-called "false information" about the country's military, including referring to the invasion as anything other than a "special military operation".

Reporters walked out of the studio after Dozhd announced it was suspending operations following a threat of closure from the authorities.

Dozhd had been extremely critical of Russian authorities’ crackdown on dissent and regularly carried live reports from opposition demonstrations.

It has extensively covered the poisoning and the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the criminal cases launched against his allies.

Last year, the Kremlin removed Dozhd from the pool of journalists covering Putin, claiming that it was supporting unsanctioned protests during a wave of opposition demonstrations against Mr Navalny’s arrest.

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