MOSCOW, August 08, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday it was perplexed at OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic’s condemnation of the closure and the seizure of property of Crimea’s Chernomorskaya broadcasting company.
Mijatovic pictured the Chernomorskaya company as “nearly a stronghold of independent media in the region,” the ministry said, whereas it was “a financially insolvent, mala fide company, which grossly violated its contract liabilities by non-payment of three million roubles to Crimea’s Radio and Television Transmission Centre and of more than 500,000 roubles to its employees.”
“It is surprising that the company’s clumsy attempts to stay afloat after a series of serious mistakes are presented as the fight of a freedom of speech champion against censorship,” the ministry said. “All actions by Russian services in respect of this mass media body, as well as the ban on rebroadcasting of the Chernomorskaya’s programmes due to the lack of an appropriate license were strictly within the legal framework - the property was arrested under a ruling of the Crimean Commercial Court.”
“Mijatovic’s hasty statement was based on unverified information. It is regrettable that the high standards of the work of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media are degrading,” the ministry said.
On August 1, representatives of Russia’s Federal Bailiff Service distrained Chernomorskaya’s property for debts to the Crimean Radio and Television Transmission Centre for transmitting its programmes. It was a ruling of the Crimean Commercial Court. Prior to that, the Centre switched Chernomorskaya off the air over the refusal of its managers to repay debts. Chernomorskaya’s property has been placed under care and custody of the Crimean Radio and Television Transmission Centre.