BBG Watch EXCLUSIVE

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a U.S. taxpayer-funded media outlet overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), informed its staff that Andrei Shary, until now the deputy director of Radio Liberty Russian Service, will replace its current director Irina Lagunina. According to sources, she will remain at RFE/RL and work on other projects.

Andrei Shary has been deputy chief editor of the Russian Service of Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) since July 2013. He has been collaborating with Radio Liberty Russian Service since 1992, serving as its corresponding to the former Yugoslav republics. Since 1996, he is working at Radio Liberty headquarters in Prague. He is editor and host of the program “Time of Liberty.”

Shary was born in 1965 in the Far East. He graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (МГИМО, MGIMO) a prestigious university under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia admitting students through a rigorous selection process which prepares them for careers in international relations and diplomacy, and more recently also for corporate positions. Irina Lagunina was also a graduate of MGIMO Faculty of Journalism.

Shary worked earlier for newspapers in Moscow. His articles have been published in Russia and European countries. He is author and co-author of thirteen books of nonfiction, including “Austria-Hungary: The Fate of the Empire” and “Danube: River of Empires.”

According to sources, Shary’s appointment was generally positively received by Radio Liberty Russian Service staffers and others who know him.

“The appointment of Andrei Shary has changed the game. He is competent journalist and good manager,” a European journalist who has worked with him in the past, told BBG Watch. “I am sure he will be able to fix some of the problems quickly, and that Svoboda under his direction would be again a great news outlet,” the journalist told us.

Another European journalist who knows him also praised his “professionalism and hard work,” but was less certain that he’ll be able to solve all of Russian Service problems unless he is able to challenge bad directives from above and improve the treatment of rank-and-file journalists.

Russian Service staffers have been complaining privately for quite some time about poor employee morale and of not being treated as professional peers. They told friends they were upset about the dismissal of award-winning human rights reporter Kristina Gorelik, who is a target of anti-Semitic online attacks by ultra-nationalists in Russia, an apparent ban on mentioning the work of former Radio Liberty investigative reporter Anastasia Kirilenko and her dismissal, as well as dismissal of some other well-liked and hard working staffers, including award-winning documentary film director Mumin Shakirov and the manager of Radio Liberty regional correspondents Vladimir Abarbanel.

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