by John F. Lansing --
On the morning of July 5, in what can only be interpreted as an attack on independent media serving Russian audiences, a Moscow court fined Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) after ruling that it had failed to comply with a new Russian law regulating media outlets branded by the government as “foreign agents.” That law has been applied only to RFE/RL, a non-profit organization funded by Congress, and to the Voice of America (VOA).
U.S. international media are protected by a legislated firewall that guarantees the editorial independence of their content. Therefore neither RFE/RL nor anyone who works for them is an agent of the United States government. The law is clearly a political attack on an influential U.S. institution and an attempt to discredit the accurate, reliable news we provide to Russian audiences every day.
In addition to discouraging the free exchange of ideas, this law wrongfully stigmatizes our journalists and puts them at risk.
Yesterday’s ruling, an escalation in a targeted campaign against RFE/RL and VOA, is worrying and unacceptable, but it will not deter us from our mission to inform and engage people—in Russia and around the world—in support of freedom and democracy.