BBG Watch Commentary
At a gathering in Moscow of Russian journalists, intellectuals, artists, human rights leaders and politicians to mark the 60th anniversary of Radio Liberty, dismissed Radio Liberty political reporter Mikhail Sokolov read a short message from the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Deputy Director Jeff Trimble who had previously been silent in public on the plight of fired Radio Liberty Moscow bureau reporters, web editors and other media professionals.
Trimble’s message, as well as messages sent to the fired Radio Liberty journalists by some of the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), may be a signal that the leadership of the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting is now ready to resolve the crisis caused by the mass dismissal of journalists and termination of many popular radio and online programs on human rights and other political issues in Russia.
Before this week, only BBG member Ambassador Victor Ashe spoke publicly about the Radio Liberty crisis and condemned the firing of journalists. But acting behind the scenes, the BBG board had reportedly asked former RFE/RL president Steven Korn to step down and later selected Kevin Klose, a distinguished journalist and media executive, to replace him. Korn denies that he was forced out.
The purge of the Moscow bureau was conducted last September by the previous Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty American management team headed by Korn.
Jeff Trimble traveled to Moscow recently with newly-appointed RFE/RL acting president Kevin Klose. They both met with representatives of the fired Radio Liberty team, which calls itself Radio Liberty in Exile, and with leading Russian human rights and political activists who strongly support them and boycott the official Russian Service of Radio Liberty led by Masha Gessen, a Korn appointee.
Klose invited one of Korn’s critics, human rights leader Lyudmila Alexeeeva, to participate in a Radio Liberty official anniversary ceremony in Washington and is believed to be working on finding a way to return the fired journalists to the station and restore some of their programs.
Radio Liberty in Exile has also received messages from RFE/RL Board chair and co-chair, BBG members Dennis Mulhaupt and Susan McCue, and from RFE/RL and BBG Board member Ambassador Victor Ashe.
Jeff Trimble’s message read at the Radio Liberty in Exile anniversary event in Moscow was streamed live online.
Message from IBB Deputy Director Jeff Trimble to Radio Liberty in Exile
“Thank you for inviting me to the 60th Anniversary of Radio Liberty event in Moscow. I look forward to participating from Washington DC via the live video streaming feed. I congratulate you, and all former and current RFE/RL Russian Service broadcasters and support personnel, on this historic milestone. It is a tribute to each and every one of you that RFE/RL has, for 60 years, been a powerful voice in support of freedom and democracy.
I look forward to seeking the best ways to continue this work together now and in the future.
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U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau”