BBG Watch Commentary
In yet another one of numerous news reporting failures, the main English language news website of U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) did not report on the State Department’s reaction Tuesday to sentencing of pro-democracy protesters in Russia.
VOA English news service had no online report on U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki written statement that “the United States is deeply disappointed by the sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the cases of eight individuals arrested after the Bolotnaya Square protests in Moscow in May 2012.”
“This is another example of punishment of Russians for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and assembly. We call upon the Russian government to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law by correcting this injustice,” the State Department spokesperson said.
A search of the VOA Russian Service news website also has not produced any reports on the latest State Department statement about human rights violations in Russia. It appears that not a single VOA language service carried this news.
The VOA Russian Service reported on the sentencing of the protesters and mentioned a brief earlier reaction on Twitter from the departing U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, but apparently had nothing on a much longer statement on the verdicts from the State Department released yesterday.
The statement has been available on the State Department’s public website for many hours and was reported by other international media outlets, including Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which is also funded by U.S. taxpayers and also supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). VOA failed to report in recent weeks on many other foreign policy statements by President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry, and key members of the U.S. Congress.
Sources told BBG Watch that BBG members are working on management reforms at VOA. Critics blame senior VOA executives, VOA Director David Ensor and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch, for failing to arrange for proper news coverage, lack of effective leadership and poor employee morale. Their chief of staff reportedly told a Washington Post columnist that improving employee morale might take from three to five years. Sources told BBG Watch that BBG members are not likely to tolerate continuing news reporting failures and delays in improving labor-management relations.
February 25, 2014
The United States is deeply disappointed by the sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the cases of eight individuals arrested after the Bolotnaya Square protests in Moscow in May 2012. Those convicted are: Andrei Barabanov, an artist; Yaroslav Belousov, a student; Alexandra Naumova Dukhanina, a student; Sergei Krivov, a physicist; Denis Lutskevitch, a student and former soldier; Alexei Polikhovich; a student; Artyom Savelyov, an athlete; and Stepan Zemin, a student. These individuals endured more than a year of detention and a politically-motivated trial marked by a lack of due process, and seven of them now face prison sentences of up to four years. This is another example of punishment of Russians for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and assembly. We call upon the Russian government to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law by correcting this injustice.
The United States is also disturbed by the large number of detentions made at peaceful demonstrations in support of these defendants on Friday, February 21 and Monday, February 24. In Moscow alone nearly 800 people were detained, and political figures such as Boris Nemtsov and Aleksey Navalnyy were arrested and will spend up to 10 days in jail. We call upon the Russian government to respect the rights of all citizens to exercise the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.