On the evening of March 9, 2014, the broadcasting of Ukrainian TV channels on the territory of the occupied Crimea was completely stopped. Instead, Russian TV channels began broadcasting [1]. Which TV studios are currently generating media content for the residents of Crimea, and whether it is worth believing the words “autonomous” or “independent” in the names of Crimean TV channels, Andrey Chvalyuk, PhD in Law, will try to find out.

“Licenses for television broadcasting” in the city of Simferopol, according to the register posted on the “Roskomnadzor” website [2], are owned by five Russian television companies. These enterprises, registered in Moscow and St. Petersburg, broadcast on nine TV channels and control 100 % of the free wireless television market. In particular, these are “Channel One” (joint-stock company, JSC “Channel One” Moscow, Akademika Koroleva str., 19); “Petersburg – Channel 5” (JSC “TV and Radio Company” Petersburg”, St. Petersburg, Chapygina St., building 6, letter A); “Match TV” (Limited Liability Company, LLC “National Sports TV Channel”, Moscow, Trifonovskaya st., 57A, floor 4, office 4-11); “NTV Television Company” (“NTV Television Company” JSC, Moscow, Tverskoy Boulevard, 9, building 1); “TV Center – Moscow” (JSC “TV Center”, Moscow, Bolshaya Tatarskaya str., 33, building 1); “TV Channel “Russia” (Russia – 1)”, “Russian Information Channel “Russia – 24” (Russia – 24)” and “TV Channel “Russia – Culture” (Russia – K)” (all from the federal state unitary enterprise “Vserossiyskaya state television and radio broadcasting company”, FGUP “VGTRK” Moscow, 5th street of Yamskogo Pole, house 19-21);

Ukrainian TV channels, for obvious reasons, were not included in the list of companies that received a “license” to broadcast in the occupied Crimea. However, until recently, residents of the Crimean settlements close to the administrative border, who preserved the old analog antennas, could receive several Ukrainian TV channels. True, in poor quality, because the broadcasting radius of the “Chongar” Radio Broadcasting Station does not exceed 60 kilometers [3]. The quality of reception is also affected by the fact that in the immediate vicinity of the administrative border with the Kherson Region, mobile TV and radio broadcasting complexes of the invaders regularly run, which jam the Chongar tower by blocking Ukrainian radio and TV signals [4].

According to the Russian “Federal News Agency”, in Sevastopol, on the Southern coast of Crimea and in Simferopol, it is difficult to pick up an analog signal from mainland Ukraine. But those who want to watch Ukrainian channels can do this using a satellite dish. However, without equipment, you can now watch only free channels, and there are not so many of them. Ukraine a year ago “encoded” the signal of the leading TV channels, so in order to watch them, you needed to buy a Ukrainian receiver and pay for the viewing. In the occupied Crimea, such equipment is not for sale, and the payment, for sure, will be problematic to carry out [5].

At a recent press conference, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Taras Shevchenko drew attention to the need to take into account the interest in Ukrainian television of residents of settlements close to the occupied territories. Their satellite dishes are directed towards the invaders. And this is also a problem. Also, “the decision to encode Ukrainian TV channels was wrong. From a business point of view, this was a plus. But from the point of view of the availability of their signal for Ukrainian citizens, this decision went, of course, in the negative” – commented Taras Shevchenko [6]. Our business interests often diverge from national interests, and therefore Ukraine often suffers on the fronts of the information war, with failures that could have been avoided. Recently, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine has prepared a prescription on the reduction of license fees for cable television. However, this decision will affect only the cable operators of Donbass, and for some reason they have forgotten about Crimea again.

Cable broadcasting in Simferopol is now represented by 88 channels. But in fact, their number is less, because many of them are duplicated. For example, the “Yuvelirochka” (“Jewels”) cable channel has been entered into the register 4 times (under the numbers 24, 25, 27 and 40). The broadcaster and telecom operator are the same, this is “VES-Media” LLC, Moscow, St. Vetkina, house 4, floor 4, room XIII, room 18. While the “ShoppingLive” channel occupies eight dedicated lines at once, and the subsequent distribution of the signal is carried out by four different telecom operators: LLC “Shopping Live”; individual entrepreneur Rasulov Rasul Akhliman-Ogly; LLC “Television” and Radio Company “Crimean Cable Channel”; LLC “Television and Radio Company “Simferopol Cable Alternative Television”. Crossover duplication can be created both to ensure the reliability of the Crimean online store, or it can have some other goals that are more significant for the Russia-controlled “authorities”.

Most of the cable broadcasting services in the occupied Crimea are provided by enterprises from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Separate licenses were issued by the invaders for LLCs from Smolensk, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Ufa and the city of Lermontov in the Stavropol Region. There are only a few channels with Crimean registration, these are “Slavyanskiy Mir`” (its broadcaster is LLC “Slavyanskiy Mir”, Belogorsk district, village Kryvtsovo, Koltsevaya St., 3, telecom operators LLC “Krelkom” and the already mentioned individual entrepreneur Rasulov Rasul Akhliman-Ogly); “Pervy Krymskiy” (its broadcaster is “autonomous non-profit organization” “TV and Radio Company “Crimea”, Simferopol, st. Studencheskaya, house 14, telecom operator “Tritel-Crimea” LLC). There is not much news about Crimea, or there is not enough capacity, but the fact remains. “Svyato-Simeonovskoe Bishops’ Compound”, as a religious organization from Yekaterinburg, belonging to the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, has the same amount of cable airtime on the peninsula as all Simferopol television combined.

As we wrote earlier [7], regarding the “Subprogram No. 2” “Development of the Republican State Television and Radio Broadcasting” of the “State Program of the Republic of Crimea” “Information Society” for 2016-2018, it was planned “at the legislative level” to allocate 15% of all radio and 25% of all TV air for Crimean collaborators to support their personalities’ cult. In 2018, the “program” was extended and almost 2 billion rubles of “budget funds” were allocated to increase the share of television and radio programs “on the activities of the Head of the Republic of Crimea, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers in the total broadcasting time of TV and Radio Company Crimea Of the Republic of Crimea, executive bodies of state power of the Republic of Crimea, local self-government bodies of municipalities in the Republic of Crimea, events of social and political life, as well as socio-economic, cultural, socio-political development of the Republic of Crimea”. This quote means that the haughty faces of the collaborators will flicker on the Crimean televisions’ screens even more often, and those who are fed up with them can always switch to the Orthodox TV channel “MuzSoyuz” of the “Svyato-Simeonovskiy Bishops’ Compound”.

Among the media broadcasting to the territory of the occupied Crimea, the “Dom” TV channel, created on the basis of Ukraine’s state TV channel for international broadcasting “UATV”, is often mentioned. “After “Dom” began broadcasting to Crimea and the occupied territories of Donbass, the channel became a target for Russian disinformation campaigns, and it also faced the facts of blocking the signal,” says the channel’s editor Alexei Matsuka [8]. Since March 1, 2021, having entered the “ASTRA-4A” satellite and turning on 10 new transmitters, “Dom” has expanded its broadcasting. Thanks to this, almost all cities of the occupied territories, both Donbass and Crimea, see him [9]. However, the Russian media [5] continue to deny the fact that the signal of the “Dom” TV channel is received by satellite dishes in Simferopol.

The situation with television broadcasting in the language of the indigenous peoples of Crimea remains difficult. Previously, the Crimean Tatar private TV channel “ATR” and the “Meydan” radio station operated on the peninsula, which stopped broadcasting, as they did not undergo “re-registration in accordance with Russian law”. Immediately after the closure of “ATR”, another television channel, “Millet”, began broadcasting on the territory of the peninsula, but not the Crimean Tatar one, but “for the Crimean Tatars”, created with money from the Russian budget. The channel’s editorial policy is not aimed at objective coverage of the situation in the Crimea, but at promoting loyalty to the occupying “authorities” and smoothing out the degree of their rejection by the Crimean Tatar people. Lilya Vedzhatova, “general director” of the “Millet” TV channel and “Vatansedasy” radio, openly called on the Crimean Tatars to come to vote in the “elections” to the State Duma of the Russian Federation and to support the current Russia-created “authorities” [10].

The owner of the “Millet” TV channel is an “autonomous non-profit organization” “Public Crimean Tatar TV and Radio Company”, established by the “Ministry of Internal Policy, Information and Communications of the Republic of Crimea”. Founded on July 21, 2015, the organization immediately began to show signs of decline. Revenue decreased every year, and in certain tax periods (2016, 2017, 2020), the balance was generally reduced to a loss [11]. All this indicates that the TV and radio company is not an independent organization, but is one of the cogs in the propaganda machine of the Russia-controlled “authorities”.

The communications operator for the “Millet” TV channel is “ITV and K+” LLC, its founder is a Moscow businessman Yevgeny Ivanovich Popov. Starting from 2015, this company also suffered a decline in revenues and in 2020 it was reorganized in the form of a merger [12]. However, the firm retained its name, the founder, and even the management team [13], and its financial affairs went up sharply. Which makes us think that the company was simply allocated funds and technical capacity to continue the activity for which it was created – to distribute the signal of the “pocket” TV channel “Millet”. Also LLC “ITV and K +” provides technical support to two more Crimean TV channels, “Sci-Fi” and “Weapon” [2]. An interesting selection: the Russian TV channel “for the Crimean Tatars”, science fiction and weapons. We could not solve this puzzle, but perhaps our readers will succeed.

“Millet” TV channel, as the “Pervy Krymskiy”, is also assisted in broadcasting by “Tritel-Crimea” LLC. One of its founders, Aleksey Grigorievich Geyner, is also the founder of the “Association of Consumers of Communication Services of the Crimea” and the “Association of Cable Communication Operators of Crimea”.

14 Crimean Internet providers [14] are participants and partners of the “Association of Cable Telecommunication Operators of the Crimea”. But now another fact has caught our attention. In addition to his social activities, Alexey Geyner is a private entrepreneur with a registered main activity “73.20 Market research and public opinion research” [15]. Where and to whom the entrepreneur transmits the results of the monitoring of public opinion, obtained by him as a provider of Internet and cable television services, we seem to be guessing. At least, LLC “Tritel-Crimea” in 2020 survived the “unscheduled check” for “the subject of compliance with the mandatory requirements for networks and communications for the conduct of operational-search measures”, and we will point to this fact without comments [16].

However, an acquaintance with the biography of Alexei Geyner until 2014 shows that his commercial activities in the Dzhankoy District for the supply of computer components have repeatedly led to scandals and accusations of fraud, where “a lot of interesting things” were expressed by the deceived clients both about the “businessman” and about his spouses, Geyner Svetlana Alexandrovna [17], [18]. But after Mr. Geyner received “full confidence” from the Russian de-facto “authorities”, there a place appeared in the corresponding system of “informatization of the peninsula” for Svetlana, who in 2017 became a co-founder of “Krimsvyaz” LLC, which successfully operates in the occupied peninsula to provide services like “Transmission of information for the transmission of voice information (IP-telephony)” [19]. It is noteworthy that Denis Alexandrovich Kasatkin is among the founders of “Krimsvyaz”, in addition to Svetlana Geyner.

Before 2014, Mr. Kasatkin, together with his parents, became the founder of such an interesting structure as the LLC “School of Information Technologies “Region” [20], which has been operating since 2003 and has not stopped working under the occupation. The permanent director of the “Region”, Slavnaya Alexandra Yurievna is now remarkable for the fact that since 2014 she has been working in the occupied Crimea as an individual entrepreneur, supplying pharmaceutical products. The key counterparty of Alexandra is now the “Department for Migration” of the invaders’ “Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Crimea”, as well as the main Crimean healthcare institutions controlled by the occupiers “by a strange coincidence” cooperate with Mrs. Slavnaya also [21], [22], and therefore she is a person that was not accidental for the Russian invaders.

Under such conditions, reports that Denis Kasatkin by 2014 in Crimea worked for the team of Mr. Sergei Lyovochkin and spread the ideology of the “Russian world” on the peninsula [23] are not at all surprising. As it is not surprising, unfortunately, the fact that at the same time Denis Kasatkin clearly did not think about material problems, because “in combination” with anti-Ukrainian work, he headed the Simferopol communal enterprise “Info-Service” created by the city council [24] with ample opportunities for corruption abuse.

Therefore, the fact that it is Denis Kasatkin who now heads the already mentioned “Association of Consumers of Communication Services of Crimea” under the Russian control, one of the founders of which is Alexey Geyner, and that these two specific persons, together with Gubsky Taras Yuryevich, own the aforementioned LLC “Tritel-Crimea” – can not cause anything but a sarcastic smile. We add that Aleksey Geyner, among other things, was involved by the Russian invaders in the work of the “Standing Committee of the Simferopol City Council on Life Support and Security” [25], and in 2016 this “powerful group” of Simferopol collaborators staged a small interdepartmental “war” with their Sevastopol “colleagues”. Then the cable operator “Sevtelecom” LLC tried to “move” “Tritel-Crimea” LLC in servicing several new buildings in Simferopol erected for the Russian colonialists [26]. Subsequently, Mr. Gainer “fought”, through public complaints to “higher colleagues”, with such structures controlled by the Russian invaders as “Krymenergo” and “Krymtrolleybus”, which obviously dared to demand from the “signalmen” some means for “using their poles” [27], [28].

By the way, the situation with television in the city of Sevastopol is similar. Perhaps the children’s and youth “Television channel “Karusel” has been added to the terrestrial television channels, and its own local television (“Sevastopol Television”, “Sevastopol 24”, “Independent Television of Sevastopol”, and so on) broadcasts on cable. It is noteworthy that the “Independent Television of Sevastopol” is clearly not so “independent”. This is a private company founded by Elena Bazhenova, the sister of the wife of the former “people’s mayor” of Sevastopol Aleksei Chaly [29]. Two weeks before the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, Aleksei Chaly, who usually avoided publicity, appeared on the air of the “Independent Television of Sevastopol”, with his vision of the “events and dangers” that await Ukraine, Crimea and Sevastopol [30]. The Russian media made him a hero who “headed the city of Russian glory and brought him to Russia”. True, after that, Aleksei Chaly himself, his retinue and relatives were forced to hide assets offshore [31], but this is a completely different story.

In the meantime, we can state that the situation with the provision of the Crimean population with information transmitted by terrestrial, cable and satellite television channels is fully Russia-controlled via local “administrations” and federal news corporations. The only way to provide the inhabitants of the peninsula with objective information and moral support is to continue to increase the technical capacity of transmitting devices from mainland Ukraine and from the satellite. And although some public figures consider this a “war with windmills”, local victories on the information front will contribute to de-occupation processes and bring closer the restoration of the effective realization of the Crimean residents’ right to information.

Sources:

1. https://www.rbc.ru/society/09/03/2014/570419099a794761c0ce7a2b

2. https://reestr-svyaz.rkn.gov.ru/place/223861.htm

3. https://rueconomics.ru/268379-sivak-lovit-ukrainskie-kanaly-v-krymu-smogut-tolko-starye-antenny-kotoryh-tam-uzhe-net

4. https://investigator.org.ua/publication/221300/

5. https://riafan.ru/region/svs/1398253-popytki-kieva-provalilis-v-krymu-ne-nashli-ukrainskii-telekanal-dom

6. https://nikvesti.com/articles/225399

7. https://arc.construction/18773?lang=uk

8. https://ru.krymr.com/a/kogo-glushat-v-krymu-ukrainskiye-media-pod-zapretom-i-obkhody-blokirovki/31343633.html

9. https://gordonua.com/news/society/telekanal-dom-prishel-v-dom-zhiteley-donbassa-i-kryma-1542158.html

10. https://ru.krymr.com/a/krym-rossiyskie-vybory-gosduma-krymskie-tatary-propaganda/31394935.html

11. https://companies.rbc.ru/id/1159102108879-avtonomnaya-nekommercheskaya-organizatsiya-obschestvennaya-kryimsko-tatarskaya-teleradiokompaniya/

12. https://www.rusprofile.ru/id/7342109

13. https://www.rusprofile.ru/id/7528255

14. https://acosc.ru/partnery

15. https://www.rusprofile.ru/ip/315910200332297

16. https://www.list-org.com/company/8067530

17. http://asterisk-support.ru/forum/topics/5173/

18. http://asterisk-support.ru/forum/topics/6839/

19. https://companies.rbc.ru/id/1179102001748-ooo-kryimsvyaz/

20. https://ring.org.ua/edr/uk/company/32684255

21. https://sbis.ru/contragents/910221155405

22. https://www.rusprofile.ru/ip/315910200377612

23. https://twitter.com/chernykvadrat/status/752161014414802944

24. https://ring.org.ua/edr/uk/company/36478097

25. http://simadm.ru/media/uploads/userfiles/2021/07/16/%D0%AE%D0%A126.pdf

26. https://acosc.ru/novosti/meropriyatiya/zasedanie-associacii-17-avgusta-2016-goda

27. https://acosc.ru/novosti/meropriyatiya/zhaloba-na-ugrozy-krymenergo-o-demontazhe-linij-svyazi-s-opor

28. https://acosc.ru/novosti/meropriyatiya/zhaloba-na-ugrozy-gup-rk-krymtrollejbus-o-demontazhe-linij-svyazi-s-opor-kontaktnoj-seti

29. https://www.list-org.com/man/3538577

30. https://rg.ru/2014/03/27/geroy.html

31. https://ruinformer.com/page/kak-svita-chalogo-spasala-aktivy-v-offshorah