Mikhail Kasyanov, one of the signatories of the protest letter to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) over the mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists and cancellation of their political and human rights programs, was Prime Minister of Russia, 2000-2004. Kasyanov, the last member of the Russian government closely associated with Yeltsin, was dismissed, along with the entire Russian cabinet, by President Vladimir Putin on 24 February 2004 after more than three years in office. Former Prime Minister Kasyanov was joined in his protest to the BBG by Boris Nemtsov (Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, 1997-1998) and Vladimir Ryzhkov (Vice-Speaker of State Duma, 1995-1998).

To the Broadcasting Board of Governors

Today when the authoritarian regime of Mr Putin has increased the pressure on independent media in Russia and began new attacks on freedom of expression and on democracy movement in Russia, the U.S. management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has made the decision to stop its medium-wave broadcasting. Moreover in one day about 40 journalists, website editors and technical staff were fired – almost the entire personnel in Moscow.

During this difficult for democracy in Russia period RFE/RL Russian Service served as one of the few remaining independent media sources providing exceptionally fair and objective coverage of Russian political life.

We were shocked by the decision of the officials of RFE/RL. This decision will cause tremendous harm to the political media freedom in Russia and therefore we are expressing our deep concern.

The purge in Moscow bureau has badly damaged the reputation of RFE/RL as a free international media working in traditions of democratic standards.

We recommend the Broadcasting Board of Governors in Washington to revise the RFE/RL management decision and restore medium-wave broadcasting and the Radio Liberty Moscow team.

Political Leaders of Russian Republican Party of People’s Freedom

Mikhail Kasyanov (Prime Minister of Russia in 2000-2004)

Boris Nemtsov (Deputy Prime Minister of Russia in 1997-1998)

Vladimir Ryzhkov (Vice-Speaker of State Duma in 1995-1998)