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  • U.S. Fires Its Own Broadcasters in Russia

    The treatment inflicted on 41 Russian journalists in Moscow’s Radio Liberty office is nothing less than scandalous, and it threatens to silence American broadcasting into Russia for good.

    But what is even more scandalous is that it was not the Russian government that, without warning, shut those journalists out of their offices on September 20 and 21 with armed guards, marched them to a lawyer’s office, and demanded they sign away their jobs of many years.

    It was the government of the United States.

    This action against the journalists by the management of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RL/RFE), a U.S.-funded international broadcaster, reflects terribly on the U.S. as a nation that respects human rights and free expression. The Broadcasting Board of Governors should reverse the firings without delay and issue a strong reprimand to the leadership of RL/RFE.

    The decision is allegedly the result of a new media law that takes effect in Moscow on November 10 that ends Radio Liberty’s license to broadcast on AM radio. The law was issued by President Boris Yeltsin during a very different time in Russian–U.S. relations. Yet other broadcasters manage to find alternatives, broadcasting either from the Baltics or through contracts with domestic Russian stations.

    In addition, the firings came shortly after the selection of a new head of the Moscow office of Radio Liberty, Masha Gessen, a Russian-American author and gay rights activist. Gessen met with Russian President Vladimir Putin just days before the firings took place, giving at least an impression that the Russian president had exerted pressure on her.

    Vladimir Ryzhkov, co-founder of the opposition Party of People’s Freedom, wrote an op-ed in The Moscow Times criticizing the firings at Radio Liberty as part of the Obama Administration’s retreat from supporting human rights and democracy in Russia.

    It is hard not to see it in that light, especially as it comes so recently after the Kremlin’s decision to kick out U.S.-government-funded USAID on October 1 after accusing the organization of internal meddling in Russian politics. This affront was meekly accepted by the Obama Administration.

    Journalist Mumin Shakirov recounted the day she was fired after 18 years of working for Radio Liberty:

    Now all that is in the past. The Moscow bureau no longer exists. But we have carried out our mission; for all these years we have talked about another Russia, about events that often passed the official media by, and we have occupied a human rights niche that would otherwise have been empty. We were different from everyone else and will be remembered for it.

    There is time yet to reverse the wrong done to the Russian journalists who trusted the U.S. as a beacon of freedom. This decision to fire them should not stand.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to U.S. Fires Its Own Broadcasters in Russia

    1. Dave says:

      The 80s called. They want the Cold War back.

    2. Eric says:

      Thank goodness! The US deficit is too dang high and we can't afford external propaganda now! Besides all those journalists are anti-Russian weiners whom no one listens to.

    3. Obama cut PBS after all?

    4. Ray Finch says:

      Agree wholeheartedly. As a long time listener of RFE’s Russian service, the quality and quantity of their radio programming has fallen off dramatically during the past month. Many of my Russian friends also bemoan this loss, as RFE was one of the few mostly objective news sources in Russia today. I want to believe that this was merely a case of bureaucratic blindness and nothing more nefarious, but VVP is known to have some powerful friends in the West.

    5. foxxumekk says:

      Worked for USIS / VOA in Munich during the Reagan administration. Though there were budgetary constraints, we were able to operate effectively and completed our "mission" in 89' when the Iron Curtain came tumbling down for good. We were perceived as a valuable entity in the ideological battle raging at the time. The Reagan people even went as far as to massively increase our security following the Libyan conflict in 86'. The Obama administration doesn't even bother to protect diplomats in the face of a clear and present threat. Shame on them!

    6. Bobbie says:

      This man has blood on his hands. Immediate impeachment is necessary. He and his administration don’t follow the rules the American people expect them to follow leaving the American people with no standard to hold Obama’s government accountable. The credit the President takes is when Americans jump through his hoops for jobs Americans need that under obama, disappear so he can hand them out and say “see what I did!” Since the man refuses his actual duty, abuses his authority that results in contempt and hostility throughout the world and here refusing all responsibilities, says he is not the man for the job while America expected to set higher standards under this man. He is more needy than the people he serves as he intentionally complicates issues that shows any need for him and his way of governance, is artificial.

      We need the strength of America under strong leadership whose personal insecurities aren’t taken out on the people and country, circumventing common laws to reflect those personal insecurities.

      Causing tensions everywhere in the world isn’t diplomatic and is radically unAmerican. Please remove these people. They have no respect for us to address truth and continue doing things haphazardly behind our backs with all expenses paid by us that we are forced to pay monetarily and consequentially…

    7. Ted Marshall says:

      What did these people think was going to happen when Putin elected himself again? Just take a look at some of the macho pictures of Putin on horseback, without a shirt, or pictures of him hunting. This is the kind of robust mans, man, Putin wants to project to the world. Does anybody in their right mind think that Gay rights will be tolerated in Russia. The kids in the rockband who are now in prision, are learning what a dictatorship is all about. I will admit I did enjoy the comedy of Nikita Krushchev when he was banging his shoe on a podieum in the United Nations during a speach. Putin just does not have any showmanship or a sense of humor, unless he is making Obama look like an idiot.

    8. Tom Sullivan says:

      The USSR was dissolved on Christmas Day 1991. But the new boss is the same as the old boss. And now the US president reacts meekly to the new dictatorship. We need a new president, and so does Russia.

    9. liberti says:

      Not only should the dedicated employees of RL, Radio Liberty/Svoboda be restored to their previous positions, those members of the BBG and their executive staff and the RFE/RL President should be fired forthwith for this travesty.

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