BBG Watch Commentary

Radio Liberty Drawing by Alexei Yorsh
Radio Liberty Drawing by Alexei Yorsh

Russia Beyond the Headlines English-language news website run by a leading Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government’s paper of record and a general-interest daily newspaper, re-published an article from opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta by fired Radio Liberty journalist Elena Rykovtseva who describes how Radio Liberty in Exile journalists and their supporters continue their struggle to save their station’s reputation and media freedom mission in Russia.

The irony is that an English-language website of the the Russian government’s paper of record can report objectively and comprehensively on the Radio Liberty crisis, while Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, where some of the managers appointed by Steven Korn continue to be in control of RFE/RL Russian and English websites, still can’t offer full and unbiased coverage of the controversy which resulted from the firing of journalists and programming changes instituted by the former management team. The Russian government’s website would not be able to engage on its own in direct criticism of President Putin, but the article it posted is critical of the Kremlin, in addition to being critical of the former American management of RFE/RL. The irony is that the op-ed is far more objective than what RFE/RL reported on the controversy so far.

Let’s hope that new RFE/RL president Kevin Klose will soon implement his vision of journalistic excellence and will eliminate fear and self-censorship.

Fired Radio Liberty journalist Elena Rykovtseva wrote in her article in Novaya Gazeta, as republished in English in Russia Beyond the Headlines.

In late December, the president of (RFE/RL) Radio Liberty resigned and was replaced by Kevin Klose, who also led the station in the mid-1990s. The group of dismissed journalists wrote a letter to him asking him to act on the situation. It was signed by 20 current employees of the Russian service and 15 of Radio Liberty’s correspondents abroad. In late February, Klose came to Moscow and met with human rights activists and the dismissed journalists.

On March 1, Radio Liberty celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first broadcast.

It remains to be seen if the dismissed journalists will be allowed to return to the station, but the story proves that Radio Liberty can manage to survive no matter if the threats it faces come from internal or external forces. At least, the credits have yet to roll on this movie.

READ MORE: Radio Liberty faces Die Hard moment by Elena Rykovtseva, Novaya Gazeta, republished in Russia Beyond the Headlines, March 11, 2013.