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Crimean Tatar TV Channel Faces Closure


Protesters demonstrate in support of the ATR TV station in Crimea on March 31.

Protesters demonstrate in support of the ATR TV station in Crimea on March 31.

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- The only television channel broadcasting in the Crimean Tatar language on the annexed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea may be shut down.

Lenur Islyamov, the owner of the ATR channel, told reporters in Simferopol on March 31 that Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has rejected several attempts by ATR to register under Russian law, citing various technicalities.

Islyamov said the deadline for registering his channel, which still holds a Ukrainian license to broadcast, is March 31.

Islyamov said his station has no plans to move from Crimea to another location in Ukraine in order to continue broadcasting.

Some 100 Crimean Tatars came to ATR's headquarters on March 31 to support it.

In a statement, Amnesty International said all but one independent Crimean Tatar-language media outlets will be shut down on April 1 as the midnight deadline expires for reregistration.

"This blatant attack on freedom of expression, dressed-up as an administrative procedure, is a crude attempt to stifle independent media, gag dissenting voices, and intimidate the Crimean Tatar community," it added.

Activists, community leaders, and rights groups say Crimean Tatars have faced discrimination, pressure, and abuse for their opposition to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.

Crimean Tatars make up some 10 percent of the population of Crimea.

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