PRAGUE – As political turmoil and targeted intimidation campaigns continue to impact RFE/RL’s journalists and their ability to operate in the wider region, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President Jamie Fly visited Lithuania and Latvia this week – two countries that have for decades been enthusiastic consumers of RFE/RL programming. In both countries Fly thanked officials for their support for the work of RFE/RL and its journalists, and emphasized the vital role of free and independent media during his meetings with them and with local journalists and activists.
In Lithuania, Fly met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Arnoldas Pranckevičius, Speaker of the Seimas (parliament) Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, and Seimas Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Žygimantas Pavilionis, as well as senior officials and advisors at the Office of the Government and the Office of the President. He also met with former Lithuanian foreign and defense minister Linas Linkevičius, and Belarus’ exiled democratic leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
In Latvia, Fly had meetings with advisors to the Prime Minister, President, and Ministry of Defense, Rihards Kols, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Saeima (parliament); and Latvia's National Electronic Mass Media Council. He also met with representatives of Latvian civil society working to counter disinformation.
During his meetings, Fly described the difficult conditions under which RFE/RL journalists have been operating and stressed the important role that RFE/RL’s journalism plays in supporting democracy across the wider region. He highlighted the urgent need to defend and model media freedom, as regional governments seek to suppress it and continue to target journalists, who are simply seeking to report the facts as they unfold. Interlocutors expressed their strong support for RFE/RL’s work and explored opportunities for further co-operation.
Fly also attended the Lithuanian premiere of Mr. Landsbergis, a documentary about Lithuania’s struggle to restore its independence. The film, which was commissioned by RFE/RL’s Current Time digital network, won the Best Film award at the 34th annual International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November 2021. Speaking at the event, which marked the 31st anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Vilnius, Fly congratulated director Sergei Loznitsa for his vision and his determination to bring the story to the attention of the world, noting the relevance of the film’s message as Russia and China today threaten democracies and attempt to distort the past.
Current Time is a 24/7 Russian-language digital and TV network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA. In addition to reporting uncensored news, it is the largest provider of independent, Russian-language films to its audiences. Despite rising pressure on Current Time from the Russian government, which has designated the network a media “foreign agent,” Current Time videos were viewed over 1.3 billion times on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021.
RFE/RL relies on its networks of local reporters to provide accurate news and information to more than 37 million people every week in 27 languages and 23 countries where media freedom is restricted, or where a professional press has not fully developed. Its videos were viewed 7 billion times on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram/IGTV in FY2021. RFE/RL is an editorially independent media company funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media.