BBG Watch Commentary

A Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcaster in Russia, Vladimir Abarbanel, described in a recent email to his colleagues how he was fired by Radio Liberty’s Russian Service management.

His former co-worker, Kristina Gorelik, Radio Liberty’s premier human rights reporter, was fired earlier in a similarly callous fashion.

She is still a target of vicious anti-Semitic attacks on her on a Russian ultra-nationalist website for her previous work with Radio Liberty. Instead of giving her support and protection, RFE/RL managers and lawyers are making accusation’s against her in a Russian court where she is fighting her dismissal with the support of leaders of the Russian human rights community, including Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the chair of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group.

READ: Called ‘traitors’ and ‘Jews’ by Putin supporters, Radio Liberty journalists complain of mistreatment by U.S.-hired management, BBG Watch, November 6, 2015


Radio Liberty broadcaster describes his firing by Russian Service manager

(Translation from Russian)

Dear Friends,
Colleagues are calling me and writing asking , “what happened”. So that’s why I am writing to everybody.
Since November 1, I am not working for Radio Libery anymore.

When I came back to Radio Liberty in 2013, I was working on a short term contract renewable every six months. It should have been renewed on September 30. A week before, Ira Lagunina [director of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Russian Service] called me and said that “perhaps it isn’t worth it to continue our collaboration,” because Radio Liberty “is moving forward, and you can’t catch up with it”.
Having worked for Radio Liberty for a long time, 17 years with the well-known interval [when dozens of Radio Liberty journalists in Russia were fired in 2012 by the former RFE/RL American management; some, including the writer of the email, were later rehired after the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) intervened], I was offered a one month term contract as a bonus. That was October.
It was a pleasure to work with you all these years. Thank you!”

Vladimir Abarbanel had created for Radio Liberty and maintained a network of regional correspondents in Russia and was producing multimedia programs. Fired Radio Liberty journalists do not have it easy in Putin’s Russia. They are vilified by Putin’s supporters and can be fired abruptly by the management of U.S. taxpayer-funded Radio Liberty Russian Service in a most callous manner.