of Its Staff in Wake of Russian Law
Washington Free Beacon
America’s broadcast voice in Russia will soon be silenced following Moscow’s ratification of a new law that will force a legendary broadcasting company to abandon the Russian airwaves.
Radio Liberty (RL), a division of the US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE), recently fired a large portion of its staff after the passage of a Russian law prohibiting foreign-owned media outlets from broadcasting on AM frequencies.
The unexpected mass layoffs came as a shock to RL journalists and Russian human rights activists alike, and spurred accusations that the Obama administration is kowtowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin as he seeks to silence the democratic voice that helped topple communism.
“The timing of it, the way it was done, and the lack of explanation” sends an unfortunate message, said David Kramer, president of the human rights organization Freedom House. “It creates the impression, whether intended or not, that the US is pulling out [of Russia], and that’s not the impression we want to leave.”
On Nov. 10, RL, known by locals as Radio Svoboda, will cease its AM broadcasts after nearly 60 years on the airwaves.
During that time, RFE-RL fought communism from behind the Iron Curtain, where its pro-America broadcasts provided an alternate source of news for Russians interested in a Western perspective.
The station’s American overseers have announced that Radio Svoboda, which reaches an estimated 150,000 listeners daily, will turn exclusively to the Internet where it hopes to reach a younger generation of Russians.
The new broadcasting law, spearheaded by Putin, orders companies that are more than 48 percent foreign-owned to leave the Russian airwaves. It comes on the heels of the ouster of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a nonprofit aid group recently banned from operating in Russia.
Soon after the radio measure was approved, RL axed the majority of its veteran reporters, radio hosts, and editors—a move viewed as suspicious to many on the inside. A handful of additional RL staffers quit in protest following the firings.
Experts fear that the disappearance of RL’s independent voice from the airwaves will allow Putin’s regime to further tighten its grip on the flow of information in Russia.
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Editor's Note: Hhmm...censoring talk radio...now where have I heard that before?....
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