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Official who revoked TV Rain's license admired Putin's Crimea annexation speech and opposed Ukraine's EU accession

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Ivars Abolins, who stripped TV Rain of its Latvian broadcasting license on December 6, wrote during the Euromaidan that Latvia should sponsor Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who opposed the country's European integration, because Ukraine had no place in the European Union, and also said Putin's speech before the Russian Federation Council on March 18, 2014, the day of Crimea's annexation, was just great, calling Western politicians “Western zeros with combed hair who could take a rest, unfortunately.”

“In general, Latvia should send money to Yanukovych and pray to God that Ukraine does not get closer to the EU. What are we going to do here with those millions of Russian-speaking people?” he wrote on Twitter on January 31, 2014.
“Just a great speech by Putin, just great. All the Western zeros with combed hair could take a rest. Unfortunately.” This post was written on March 18, 2014, at 9 p.m. Latvian time - after Putin's speech and the signing of the “Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the Accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the Formation of New Entities within the Russian Federation.”

A little earlier, in the summer of 2013, Abolins wrote that Putin “holds Russia up, protects it from chaos.”

You might recall it was in the summer of 2013 that Putin started talking about a single nation uniting Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians, and said he planned to work on uniting Russia and Ukraine into one state. Before that, he stated that “Ukraine is not even a state,” half of it is Russian land transferred to Ukraine.

Now Abolins heads the National Electronic Media Council (NEPLP). Stripping TV Rain of its broadcasting license due to the anchor's slip of the tongue, he stated that the decision was made “due to the threat to national security and public order” and stated that the Russian opposition media violated the local laws in Latvia. Abolins also noted that representatives of TV Rain had asked for a hearing of the TV channel’s case to be conducted in the Russian language. “Representatives of the channel arrived at the hearing without an interpreter and wanted to speak in Russian, so the hearing did not take place,” Abolins said.

At the same time, Tikhon Dziadko, editor-in-chief of TV Rain, said that the representatives of the TV channel “never proposed holding official discussions in a language other than the official language of Latvia”. Moreover, the channel's management was not notified of such a hearing at all, said Dziadko. Thus, the TV channel was deprived of an opportunity to defend itself.

“The council hearing which deprived TV Rain of its broadcasting license was held without the participation of the TV channel’s representatives, we were not invited. Up to that point, we had discussed various issues with the council many times, Russian was used as the working language by agreement of the parties, no interpreter was ever required,” Dziadko said.

Update: Abolins said he regretted his old statements for he was no longer holding such views. «Those tweets no longer reflect my views in any way. I based my tweets then on the information available at the time. That opinion is wrong and completely inconsistent with my current position.»

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