Russian independent TV Rain relaunches from abroad

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A view shows a logo in the office of the media outlet TV Rain (Dozhd) in Moscow, Russia September 2, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

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LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - The liberal-leaning Russian independent TV station Dozhd (TV Rain) resumed broadcasting on Monday evening from abroad after being forced to shut its Moscow studio following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Dozhd, portrayed in the 2021 film "Tango with Putin", was visited and praised in 2011 by then-President Dmitry Medvedev when it was just a year old, and largely apolitical.

But like all Russian independent media, it has been harassed relentlessly since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012.

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On Monday, it said it had received a European Union broadcasting licence and would be working from studios in Latvia, France and the Netherlands - as well as Georgia, where many Russians uncomfortable with the invasion have moved since February.

It will also stream on YouTube, which is not censored in Russia and is likely to be the only way most people in Russia will be able to see it.

"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," Dozhd's statement said.

As Russia became more authoritarian, notably after the suppression of protests against the outcome of the 2012 election, a station that called itself "Optimistic Channel" found it could no longer ignore politics.

In 2014, it was thrown off broadcast networks after conducting a poll in which respondents said the Soviet Union should have abandoned Leningrad to Hitler in 1941 instead of resisting a Nazi siege for almost 900 days - a subversion of the ideal of wartime resistance and assertion of Russian values that Putin loves to evoke.

In 2021, Dozhd was expelled from the Kremlin press pool and labelled a "foreign agent". The designation forced it to append a disclaimer to all its output - now confined to the internet - and imposed a host of administrative obligations.

On March 1, Russia's communications watchdog announced it was blocking Dozhd's output, accusing it of spreading "deliberately false information about the actions of Russian military personnel" in Ukraine. The next day, Dozhd announced that its team had left Russia.

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Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Angus MacSwan and Richard Chang

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