Democracy DigestDemocracy Digest, a blog published by the National Endowment for Democracy, is reporting on the current crisis and Radio Liberty in Russia in an article titled “RFE/RL Russia dispute damaging US image ‘more than KGB’ ever did.”

The article has links and quotes to several media reports, including those by The Washington Post and BBG Watch.

Quoting from The Washington Post reporter Kathy Lally’s recent article, Democracy Digest notes that former President Mikhail Gorbachev has joined many Russian democrats and civil society activists in criticizing the changes at Radio Liberty.

Gorbachev, who inadvertently helped bring about the demise of the Soviet Union by opening up access to information, said that in light of the recent clampdown by Putin’s government — including laws forcing activists who get grants from abroad to register as foreign agents and the expulsion fromRussia of the U.S. Agency for International Development — it looked as if the United States was making “an about-turn.”

Two Russian dissidents, Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group and Sergei Kovalyov of the Sakharov Foundation, wrote to Congress demanding an investigation. Radio Liberty’s management,  Alexeyeva said, had harmed the U.S. image here more than the KGB ever could.

“The fired journalists are in fact some of the most respected independent reporters and new media specialists in Russia,” said Ted Lipien, a former Voice of America acting Associate Director and former BBG regional Marketing Director:

That is why the whole human rights and democratic opposition movement, including Alexeeva, Gorbachev, former Prime Minister Kasyanov, former Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov and countless others, have defended them and turned against Korn, Julia Ragona, Masha Gessen and their new team, whose members have no name recognition in Russia and have lost online audience, more than 50% by some Russian media accounts citing open statistics. These Russian leaders all concluded that Radio Liberty’s reputation in Russia has been ruined and asked for the fired journalists to be rehabilitated and brought back.

Freedom House President David Kramer said that nothing short of a complete housecleaning of the RFE/RL top leadership is required. The damage they have done is immeasurable,” Kramer said.

“Seven relatively small steps can make a big difference in realizing U.S. international broadcasting’s full potential,” former RFE/RL chief Jeffrey Gedmin,  now president of the London-based Legatum Institutewrote in a recent issue of The American Interest .

READ MORE: “RFE/RL Russia dispute damaging US image ‘more than KGB’ ever did,” Democracy Digest, National Endowment for Democracy, January 4, 2013.