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'Foreign Agent' Watch


RFE/RL's bureau in Moscow.

Summary

An amended law on "foreign agents" signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 2, 2019 ratchets up pressure on the hundreds of correspondents working for RFE/RL in Russia who are too often the only source of reliable information in their remote regions, and who provide one of the few alternatives to Kremlin-controlled news.

RFE/RL's ‘Foreign Agent’ Watch is monitoring the law’s implementation, and its impact on media independence and journalists’ security in Russia.

Statement, 02/03/2020

RFE/RL Seeks To Expand In Russia, Despite ‘Foreign Agent’ Law

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President Jamie Fly left Moscow on January 31 with a defiant message following three days of meetings meant to clarify the implications of Russia’s “Foreign Agent” law and discuss plans with his colleagues to expand the company’s journalistic activity in the months ahead.

Fly discussed plans to expand RFE/RL offices in Russia and to seek access to Russian airwaves and TV distribution channels that have previously been denied to the organization.

RFE/RL President Calls Russian ‘Foreign Agent’ Law A ‘Dangerous’ Effort To Persecute Independent Journalists

In an interview in Moscow on January 30 with the broadcaster Ekho Moskvy, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly expressed alarm about Russia’s “Foreign Agent” law, saying, "We have great concerns about this law, and see it as a threat to freedom of speech." He said new amendments to the law passed in December 2019 were “dangerous,” and were part of increasing efforts by the Kremlin to persecute the company’s journalists because of their reporting.Fly rejected the Kremlin’s claim that the “Foreign Agent” restrictions “mirror” those relating to Russian media in the U.S., pointing out that "Americans have no problem accessing RT and Sputnik in the U.S.,” whereas RFE/RL is “not available on TV and radio waves" in Russia. Despite its strong objections, Fly said RFE/RL is complying with the law to ensure that the critically important work of its journalists in the Russian media market continues.

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