Mar 31, 2015

Crimean Tatars: ATR TV in Danger of Being Shut Down

If the Crimean Tatar TV station ATR fails to obtain a broadcasting license from the Russian regulators, it will be forced off the air as of 1 April 2015. ATR has so far failed to obtain the requested license, its application having been returned by Russian officials several times. The potential shut down of the world’s only Crimean Tatar TV channel takes place in a broader context of violations of minority rights in occupied Crimea by the Russian authorities.


Below is an article published by Transitions Online:


Crimea’s lone Tatar-language television station may be forced off the air on 1 April if it fails to win approval from Russian regulators.

In what may be the latest sign of efforts to quash ethnic Tatars since Crimea was annexed by Russia, ATR television in Simferopol is preparing to shut down unless the Roskomnadzor regulator issues a broadcasting license.

“We'll come to work as usual on April 1,” ATR journalist Safie Ablyayeva told Radio Free Europe. “But we have no idea what we'll find, since we have just as much information as all Crimean Tatars.”

ATR – which RFE describes as the world’s only Crimean Tatar TV channel – has had overwhelming support in an online survey conducted on its website.

Roskomnadzor officials reportedly have returned ATR’s licensing application several times.

“A month passes and then they give us some sort of formal objection,” ATR General Director Elzara Islyamova told RFE. “We either answer their question or make some sort of change and then resubmit and again we get a 30-day pause. You see, they can find such formal objections to delay the application for 100 years if they want.”

An official of the Russian-backed Crimean authority has accused the station of intentionally making paperwork mistakes in a bid to block regulators from issuing a license, RFE reports from Simferopol.

Meantime, Ukraine Today reports that some 150 people demonstrated in central Kyiv on 28 March in support of ATR.

“The tragic events that occurred a year ago, left nobody indifferent,” the demonstrators said in a statement published by Ukraine’s Interfax news agency cited by Ukraine Today. “We watched the news from Crimea. One of the few sources of accurate information was the channel ATR, which continued to work despite pressure from the current authorities in Crimea. ATR paid for their objectivity, by being put under threat of closure.”

In the year since Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, the Kremlin is accused of trampling the rights of minorities, including ethnic Tatars, and cracking down on non-Orthodox religions.


Photo courtesy of the Moscow Times.