WASHINGTON - U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) praised "the remarkable work" being done by U.S. international media during a historic address to the Czech Parliament this week, following a visit to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquarters.
Speaker Ryan visited RFE/RL headquarters on March 26 during a trip to Prague to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of U.S.-Czech relations. RFE/RL is one of the five networks of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. international media oversight agency that also includes Voice of America (VOA), Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Networks (MBN). His visit to the network focused on the Russian-language Current Time digital and TV network, which is led by RFE/RL in collaboration with VOA. Specifically, they discussed the alternative to Kremlin media coverage of Russia's March 18 presidential elections that RFE/RL and Current Time provided, and RFE/RL's role as a surrogate reporter in Crimea, where, since Moscow's annexation of the peninsula in 2014, virtually all non-Russian media has been forced to close. Ryan also sat down for an interview with RFE that focused on the U.S. decision to expel dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy on British soil.
In remarks to a special session of the Parliament on Tuesday, March 27, Ryan called RFE/RL "a reminder that a free and transparent media is a vital component of a healthy democracy," and thanked lawmakers for their support.
RFE/RL has operated from the Czech Republic since 1995, when it accepted an invitation from the late President Vaclav Havel to relocate its operations from Munich, Germany.