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One of Russia's most respected independent regional television stations went off the air shortly after midnight after the local state-owned broadcasting center canceled its transmission agreement.

Tomsk TV-2 in western Siberia ended terrestrial broadcasting on January 1.

According to Interfax, the channel can still be seen via cable.

Instead of broadcasting Russian President Vladimir Putin's traditional New Year's message, the station broadcast a message from chief editor Viktor Muchnik, thanking viewers for supporting the channel over the last 23 years.

Local courts rejected three appeals from Tomsk TV-2 arguing that the broadcast center's decision to cancel the contract even though Tomsk TV-2 has a broadcasting license was illegal.

Tomsk TV-2 is an award-winning regional channel that is known for its editorial independence.

Staff and management believe the decision to close it was politically motivated.

With reporting by Interfax
Bolotnaya 'Prisoner Of Conscience' Released (In Russian)
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One of the Russians who was imprisoned after the May 6, 2012, protest on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square against Russian President Vladimir Putin has been released.

Artyom Savyolev, 35, was released from a prison camp in Ryazan Oblast on December 31 after serving his sentence of two years and seven months.

He was convicted of resisting arrest, charges which he denies.

More than 400 people were detained after violence erupted during the Bolotnaya protest, and several dozen people were prosecuted.

A handful were given jail terms, most prominently, opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov.

He is serving 4 1/2 years in prison on charges of organizing mass disorder.

Savyolev was never a member of any opposition group.

He was one of three Bolotnaya prisoners to be named a "prisoner of conscience" by the rights group Amnesty International.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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