Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the U.S.-backed international news organization, has closed their Russian operations. The decision came after the Russian government adopted a law potentially punishing journalists for not reporting the Moscow line on why Russia invaded Ukraine -- freeing Ukrainians from "Neonazis" and "drug addicts" -- with up to 15 years in prison.
But RFE/RL pledged to keep the news flowing and continue to report on the war (Moscow has said journalists must describe it as a "special military operation”) from outside its Russian offices, which have been closed.
Also: White house Slams Russia's Censorship of War Coverage
“This is not a decision that RFE/RL has taken of its own accord, but one that has been forced upon us by the Putin regime’s assault on the truth," said RFE/RL CEO Jamie Fly. "Following years of threats, intimidation and harassment of our journalists, the Kremlin, desperate to prevent Russian citizens from knowing the truth about its illegal war in Ukraine, is now branding honest journalists as traitors to the Russian state.” He said RFE/RL would continue to counter Moscow's "steady diet of lies" about the scope and impact of the war.
Kelu Chao, acting CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees RFE/RL, VOA and other networks, said: “It is clear that by restricting access to RFE/RL and VOA’s fact-based reporting, the Kremlin hopes to keep its own citizens in the dark and to hide the truth. The people of Russia deserve to know the facts about their government’s attacks on Ukraine and how the world is reacting. USAGM will continue to use its resources to bring unbiased information to light at this crucial time,” she said. ■
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.