An op-ed by Ted Lipien, former Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) president, former Voice of America (VOA) acting associate director and co-founder of USAGM Watch, was published Monday by the Washington Examiner.

Putin is blackmailing US taxpayer-funded Radio Liberty

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, where I served briefly as president and CEO until earlier this year, is under assault by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Through his agencies and obedient courts, he is blackmailing the media organization funded by U.S. taxpayers, issuing fines and threats of criminal prosecutions unless Radio Liberty agrees to play by his rules. Because of the actions already taken by the Kremlin, RFE/RL is facing a defining choice: whether to keep its news bureau staff in Moscow (along with its freelance reporters) or to reduce its presence in Putin’s Russia. 

I’m encouraged to see that Jamie Fly, my predecessor and successor as RFE/RL’s president, has strongly rejected the latest court fines against the U.S. tax-funded international multimedia broadcaster, but the Biden administration and Congress will have to do much more to counter Russian authorities’ attempts to undermine the work of Radio Liberty journalists. The White House and Congress need to agree on a rescue package to continue RFE/RL’s news coverage from Russia if its staff reporters and some freelancers have to leave the country to avoid going to prison.


Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty Building in Prague. Photo by Ted Lipien. January 17, 2021.