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Situation with Radio Broadcasting in the Captured Crimea

Sun, 05.09.2021 16:38



Ukrainian human rights activists regularly monitor the situation with the spread of the Ukrainian radio signal in the occupied Crimea and the actions of Russia’s invaders to block it, but few people researched what the Crimean radio stations are broadcasting about, how many they are and who are their ultimate beneficiaries. Andrey Chvaliuk, Candidate of Legal Sciences, will try to partially open this “veil of secrecy”.

On the territory of the captured peninsula, a total of 28 terrestrial radio stations are currently broadcasting (29 if you count “Vesti FM”, which uses two radio frequencies in Sevastopol at once) and 23 Internet radio stations (or radio stations whose frequency is unknown).

Until February 2015, radio stations in the Crimea operated under previously issued Ukrainian licenses, but all of them were “canceled” by Russia’s “authorities” a year later. To continue broadcasting, the enterprises were forced to “re-register” with the “Roskomnadzor’s Department for the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol”. “Licenses” were issued selectively, regarding “the interests of the state security of Russia”. Therefore, some of the enterprises that were left without work were absorbed by more successful Russian “colleagues”, such as the Krasnodar LLC “Radio Company RADIO ROKS – Region”, which consolidated the broadcasting capacities of the Ukrainian radio “Peretz FM”.

On the Roskomnadzor website, in the Public Register of the RF Communications and Television and Radio Broadcasting Infrastructure, a list of all radio stations, “legally operating” in the Crimea, is available. Most of them, namely 27 companies, are concentrated in Simferopol, this is “Vesti FM”; “Radio Dacha”; “Radio Love”; “Europa Plus”; “Radio Vera”; “Retro FM”; “Autoradio”; “Road Radio”; “Maximum’; “Radio Crimea”; “Our radio”; “Di FM”; “Hit-FM”; “National radio station” “ZVEZDA-FM”; “Crimea Point”; “Vatan Sedasy”; “Radio Crimea”; “More”; “Radio 7”; “Humor FM”; “SPUTNIK” (“Sputnik in Crimea”); “Radio Jazz”; “Radio record”; “Kazak FM” (former Ukrainian radio “Peretz FM”); “Radio Chanson”; “Russian Radio Crimea”; “Relax FM”; “Radio “Komsomolskaya Pravda””. In Sevastopol, in addition to some of the above-pointed ones, “Sevastopol FM”, owned by the “Sevastopol TV and Radio Company”, also broadcasts. In total, there are 22 public broadcasting radio waves in Sevastopol.

The terrestrial radio stations were “allocated” different frequencies for Simferopol and Sevastopol, but their broadcasting is carried out with the help of the same Simferopol towers: Simferopol TV tower (Studencheskaya street, 14); the tower of the shopping and entertainment center “Zhisa” (Street of 51st Army, 131); towers at Petrovsky Heights: Pro-Media (Krylova street, 161) and the “Pilot TV and Radio Broadcasting Company” (the radio transmitting center is located at the site of the “Gorvodokanal” pumping station). It seems that these four towers are quite enough for the information purposes of the Russian invaders, and there are no plans to install new structures within the city. Unlike mobile communication towers, which, according to Russia’s “authorities”, are planning to install 52 only in Sevastopol and its environs.

As the “head of the digital development department” Alexandra Osipova reported at a meeting of the “government of the city of Sevastopol”, they “provides for the construction of 22 antenna mast structures, which will be installed on highways, remote areas and rural areas”. Also, this “official” reported that 30 more “dual-purpose props” will be installed in the central part of the city. Was this not an accidental slip of the tongue of the former Chief Adviser of the Information Society Department of the Department of Information Technologies and Communications of the Government of Russia? What did she really want to report to her “Crimean bosses”? That there will be new modernized urban infrastructure facilities (based on outdoor lighting poles, electric transport poles or power line poles), on which communication equipment and video cameras will be placed. Or that the towers will be the basis for the deployment of dual-use technologies, the very ones that can find application, both in the civilian and military spheres. We are leaning towards the second option. Moreover, such precedents already exist.

Since 2014, the aggressor country has been successfully using mobile TV and radio broadcasting complexes of the NGO “Svyazproekt”, at least two of which were seen in the immediate vicinity of the administrative border with the Kherson Region. According to experts, these complexes may well be used for local (within a radius of 5-10 kilometers) suppression of radio signals from Ukrainian radio stations.

Initially, the complex was developed with a completely “peaceful” purpose – to ensure the supply of a signal in the event of a breakdown of broadcasting network objects or for the period of repair of network components. But, as the English proverb teaches – “in love and in war, all tools are good”. Therefore, the mobile TV and radio broadcasting complexes placed on the chassis of the “Kamaz” car were prudently painted in camouflage at the plant. In addition to mobile complexes, Russia’s “authorities” are installing stationary towers in the occupied territory of Crimea, near the administrative border. Which are also used to block Ukrainian FM radio broadcasting. However, this is not about that now.

Russia-controlled “Crimean radio stations” were created in the form of “LLC” or “autonomous non-profit organizations”, and federal ones – have a wider range of organizational and legal forms. For example, the owner of “Vesti FM” is the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company”, with an office in Moscow. And the “National radio station” “ZVEZDA-FM”, the waves of which penetrate the fragile heads of the Crimean youth, receives funding from the open joint-stock company “Television and Radio Company of the Armed Forces of Russia” “ZVEZDA”.

“Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda” belongs to the Joint Stock Company “Publishing House Komsomolskaya Pravda”, the main founder of which is the Saratov businessman Arkady Evstafiev, better known in the case of the “Xerox box” – a scandal related to the financing of Boris Yeltsin’s election campaign in 1996. Now Arkady Evstafiev is the leader of the Saratov Regional Branch of the “Right Cause” Russian politic party, and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation is checking him for possible involvement in the murder of Vladislav Listyev. Russian punitive agencies were finally interested in the fact that a month after the tragic death of Listyev, Evstafiev, a native of the KGB, suddenly became the Deputy General Director of the “ORT” channel. By the way, “Saratov Airlines”, previously owned by Arkady Evstafiev, operated flights from Russia to the occupied Crimea for two months in 2018. As you can see, the interests of Russia, its federal government, its armed forces and state security bodies cover all spheres of life of the occupied peninsula, including radio broadcasting.

In general, local and “conditionally local” radio stations are represented on the territory of Crimea by 19 companies. Six more are fully controlled from Moscow. One radio station is owned by the “municipal-federal” structure from the Krasnodar territorial “Radio company RADIO ROKS – Region”. However, the greatest interest is aroused by “Radio-Lyubov” (“Radio-Love”), owned by the Kostroma-based “RK Media”. The roots of this advertising company also lead to Moscow, to the “Roscongress” Foundation, and then get lost in the chain of non-profit organizations.

Alexander Stuglev is the permanent chairman of the board and director of the “Roscongress” Foundation. His biography has been thoroughly cleaned up, but despite the fact that immediately after graduating from the Baltic State Technical University named after D.F. Ustinov in 1996, Mr. Stuglev was exclusively engaged in “holding exhibitions, conferences and forums” only, his alma mater has been named after the Minister of Defense of the USSR for a good reason.

The specialization of the graduates of this educational institution is most clearly reflected in its modern name – “Baltic State Technical University “Voenmech” named after D.F. Ustinov”. Therefore, we are not surprised that Alexander Stuglev receives congratulations on his birthday from the Russian Bar Association. It is possible that greeting cards from former classmates come to him from the Ministry of Defense of Russia also. Most likely, Alexander Stuglev also received the instruction to “buy a radio in Crimea” from men in uniform.

“Radio-Love” received the frequency resource, and possibly the equipment “inherited” from the Ukrainian company “New Horizon”, which was associated with the “Party of Regions”. In 2011, the “New Horizon” company, which had never been involved in radio business before, suddenly received 55 frequencies from the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, and at that time it became, in terms of technical coverage, almost the largest Ukrainian domestic radio network. And now Russian military mechanics like Mr. Stuglev are picking up “pieces of former greatness” for themselves. Why the curators of Alexander Stuglev needed “their own radio in the Crimea” – is still unknown. It is possible that he could practically apply the knowledge gained at the university’s Base Department BI4 “Radio-electronic systems for special purposes”. Moreover, as we pointed out already, Alexandra Osipova promised to install dual-purpose supports for these systems soon.

The situation with radio broadcasting in the language of the indigenous people also remains difficult. Until recently, there were two radio stations broadcasting in the Crimean Tatar language in Crimea: “Vatan Sedasy” and “Meydan FM”. On March 1, 2021, the first Crimean Tatar radio station “Meydan FM” stopped broadcasting in the Crimea. The reason was in debts to the service provider arising from the the Crimean Tatar media holding “ATR”.

“Vatan Sedasy” radio station received a “broadcasting license” in Crimea in August 2015. The “permissive documents” indicate that the broadcaster is an “autonomous non-profit organization” “Public Crimean Tatar TV and Radio Company” registered in Simferopol. However, the so-called “Ministry of Internal Policy, Information and Communications of the Republic of Crimea” was indicated as the “owner of the company”. This “television and radio company” does not have “authorized capital”, which once again confirms its complete dependence on Russia’s “authorities”. Despite the income from advertising, broadcasting in the language of the indigenous people of Crimea by collaborators under the conditions of the Russian aggression turned out to be an unprofitable activity. For example, in 2020 the company showed losses in the amount of 400 thousand rubles and, according to three methods out of five, has the risk of bankruptcy. This means that broadcasting can be stopped at any time.

We did not find in open sources information about the availability of financial support of private Crimean radio companies from Russia’s de-facto “authorities”. “Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea” 2016 No. 43 “approved” “The State Program of the Republic of Crimea “Information Society” for 2016-2018”, which, with subsequent changes, contains a “Subprogram” No. 2 “Development of the Republican State Television and Radio Broadcasting”. This “subprogram” aimed to “satisfy information needs in radio broadcasting in Crimea”. However, as often happens there, the goal did not coincide with the task of “increasing the radio coverage and improving the signal quality of the “autonomous non-profit organization” “TV and Radio Company “Crimea””. Thus, it was immediately outlined that the “subprogram” was designed only for the “state” sector of the service market, leaving all other radio stations “out of the box”.

Also, the “officials” of the Russia’s “administration” did not hesitate to indicate that the only goal (target indicator) of allocating “budgetary funds” is “to increase the share of radio programs on the activities of the “Head of the Republic of Crimea”, of the “Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea”, of the “Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic Crimea”, of the “executive bodies of state power of the Republic of Crimea”, of the “local self-government bodies of municipalities in the Republic of Crimea” in the general airtime of radio broadcasting of “TV and Radio Company “Crimea””. Thus, they decided to spend “budgetary funds” on the popularization of their own activities. In total for 2016-2018, 738 million rubles were successfully spent for these purposes. After that, the Crimean “leaders” considered that their names were not heard on the radio often enough and extended this “Subprogram” No. 2 for 2018-2020, having allocated almost two billion rubles for the same purposes.

Therefore, there is no need for Russia’s de-facto “administration” to “feed” small radio stations, when 15 % of all radio and 25 % of all TV air “at the legislative level” is allocated to support the personality cult of Crimean collaborators. Moreover, those “leaders” later have enough “fortitude” to increase the share of television and radio programs with their participation every year, paying for their own PR with “budgetary funds”. Such a sad situation led to the fact that advertising revenues were and remain the only sources of income for the Crimean non-“state” radio stations. But advertising income alone will not allow “to go far”, so we predict a reduction, in the near future, of the broadcasting of private radio stations controlled by the Russian invaders in Crimea and a decrease in their number.

Source: arc.construction

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