BBG Watch Commentary
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the management of BBG-supervised Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) often complain when countries like Iran and China block news websites, but RFE/RL executives have no problem preventing their own journalists and other employees from accessing at work a news website set up in Russia by a dissident group Radio Liberty in Exile.
Dozens of fired Radio Liberty journalists, other journalists who resigned in protest and their supporters have set up a news and information website SvobodaNew.com, which is now blocked on computers at RFE/RL news offices, making it inaccessible at work for the station’s journalists unless they request permission by sending an email to the management.
Radio Liberty in Exile has also produced this video with an appeal to the U.S. Congress for help.
The mass dismissals and the cancellation of many pro-human rights programs on orders of RFE/RL president Steven Korn have been condemned by leaders of all major Russian human rights groups and democratic opposition parties, including Lyudmila Alexeeva, former president Mikhail Gorbachev, and former reformist prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov.
The crisis at Radio Liberty continues to receive wide media attention in Russia. In the United States, Russia experts, including David Satter, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, radio personality and former BBG member Blanquita Cullum, renowned Russian American sociologist Vladimir Shlapentokh, and Andrei Sakharov’s and Elena Bonner’s daughter Tatyana Yankelevich, have spoken up and written articles highly critical of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty management. NPR reported on a demonstration held by Radio Liberty in Exile supporters in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Some Broadcasting Board of Governors members, including former U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe, have also condemned in public and in private RFE/RL president Steven Korn’s actions in Russia, but the whole bipartisan board has not yet reacted to the crisis at Radio Liberty. Ashe said that Korn made Radio Liberty an enemy to the human rights and democratic opposition movement in Russia.
A group of American supporters of Radio Liberty in Exile has launched a website
NewLibertyRussia.com with updates about U.S. and Russian reactions to the crisis at RFE/RL and at Radio Liberty in Russia.