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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

TV6 Ruling Angers Liberal Politicians

A number of prominent politicians lashed out at the Higher Arbitration Court's decision Friday to liquidate TV6, calling it a political move that spelled trouble for other independent media.

"After this decision any talk about the independence of Russia's judicial system will not be possible without an ironic smile," Boris Nemtsov, head of the Union of Right Forces political party, said Friday on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Nemtsov said that the ruling was based on nothing but a political agenda and that the liquidation of TV6 would lead to a further monopolization of information resources. He added that it could be interpreted by authorities in the regions as a signal to crack down on local independent press.

Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, joined State Duma Deputy Speaker Irina Khakamada and members of the Boris Berezovsky-backed Liberal Party in echoing concern over the future of free media.

"There is no doubt that the liquidation of TV6 will lead to a chain reaction of prosecution of mass media in the regions," Yavlinsky said in statement distributed by Interfax.

Yavlinsky added that TV6's liquidation violates the Constitution-granted right of viewers to freely receive information.

Ruslan Aushev, a Federation Council senator and former Ingush president, said the decision to close TV6 was politically motivated. "I treat the decision to liquidate TV6 negatively. It was a perfectly normal television station, and the rush with which the decision was made leaves me puzzled," he was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the traditionally pro-Kremlin leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, agreed that there was a political aspect to the TV6 case. But he told Ekho Moskvy that the channel itself was partly at fault because it had failed to tone down its criticism of the Kremlin after state-connected Gazprom took over NTV in April. Zhirinovsky said TV6 should have waited a year or two before resuming its critical coverage.

Other politicians said that the ruling was nonpolitical and that the matter was merely a business dispute.

"We are just not used to acting within the framework of the law," Gennady Raikov, head of the People's Deputy faction, was quoted by Interfax as saying.