BBG Watch – Commentary

Radio Liberty-in-Exile group of fired Radio Liberty journalists is planning a protest in Moscow during a panel discussion on Monday by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Steven Korn, his deputy Julia Ragona and their new Russian Service director Masha Gessen.

Korn/Ragona/Gessen discussion shown as third top news item on Radio Liberty Russian website.

View larger image of captured Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) home page.

In a bizarre display of journalistic chaos at Radio Liberty after dozens of journalists and Internet specialists were fired last month to clean house for Masha Gessen, the now slowly updated and lacking much original content Radio Liberty Russian website lists the panel discussion as the third main news item on the home page, as if nothing more important was happening in Russia and the world, but strangely it does not provide the location for the event in Moscow. There is also no mention on the Radio Liberty Russian website about any planned demonstrations.

From a journalistic perspective, answering the “where” question is a must, and censoring information about a planned demonstration is unacceptable for an American taxpayer-supported media outlet created to provide uncensored news. But the bizarre nature of the whole thing is that Radio Liberty had it as the third main news item on its website. While the information is certainly important internally and for many who are concerned about the destruction of the station, it was not on that day the third most important news item in the world or even in Russia. It could conceivably be important, if it were truthful, balanced, and comprehensive, but it was not.

Also, in an attempt to hide the Radio Liberty controversy from Americans, the RFE/RL English website is not reporting on the panel discussion or any associated protests.

Former Radio Liberty journalists were not allowed to observe the RFE/RL panel discussion in Moscow. Two of them, however, Mikhail Sokholov and Marina Timasheva, were later invited to participate in the discussion.

Radio Liberty-in-Exile expects that the Korn/Ragona/Gessen panel discussion on “Reforming Radio Liberty” will be held at the Digital October conference center in Moscow. That is where the group is planning its protest, although it is possible that RFE/RL may change the location of its panel at the last moment.

Korn has accused the fired Radio Liberty staffers, some of the best known independent Russian journalists and new media professionals, of being resistant to change, stuck in the 1980s, and incapable of using digital media. Radio Liberty-in-Exile plans to stream its protests live. Some of the fired journalists, who had created one of the best multimedia news websites in Russia, have pioneered live streaming of video in Russia from anti-Putin demonstrations and political trials.

Video streaming by Ustream

BBG Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton is CEO, Sony Corporation of America and Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
BBG Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton is CEO, Sony Corporation of America and Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

American friends of Radio Liberty-in-Exile have produced a poster showing the Broadcasting Board of Governors interim presiding governor Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corporation of America and Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Lynton, whose company and its Russian subsidiary Monumental Pictures do multi-million dollar business in Russia, has expressed publicly his confidence in Korn decision to fire nearly 40 Radio Liberty journalists and to stop medium wave (AM) broadcasts in Russia. Lynton also rejected numerous letters of protests from prominent Russian opposition leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev, calling for the rehiring of the fired Radio Liberty journalists and the restoration of their pro-democracy and human rights radio programs and online content.


We, dozens of former Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) journalists fired by American managers who used guards and other coercive measures against us, are ready to welcome Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Steven Korn and his deputy Julia Ragona for a private conference during their planned visit to Moscow on October 29.

We believe that instead of reforming, Korn and Ragona destroyed Radio Liberty. Newly recruited people, former print magazine editors and writers brought in by the new Russian Service director Masha Gessen have no substantive experience in new social media, investigative reporting or video and radio broadcasting. This looks to us more like scandalous nepotism than any serious reform.

Masha Gessen said that Radio Liberty should become an “agent of normality” and pay less attention to the political opposition in Russia.

Is this the language of President Putin who had a meeting with Gessen? We all know that Mr. Putin hates “enemy foreign agents” or any kind of media supporting democratic change like Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, but he will for sure more than welcome “agents of normality.”

We believe that RFE/RL president Steven Korn and his deputy Julia Ragona are destroying Radio Liberty and its focus on human rights issues. At the same time when the Russian government authorities are increasing their repressive measures against civil society initiatives, these executives plan to “normalize” Radio Liberty coverage. This station is paid for by American taxpayers to support free media and political freedom. Let Steven Korn pay for “Radio Gessen” himself, and allow American taxpayers to support the true Radio Liberty which is now in exile.

We will hold a protest event performance in Moscow on Monday, October 29 at 11:30 am, on Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya 6/3, against Mr Korn’s “Pop Radio.”

Everyone, including media and NGOs, is welcome to join us. Prior registration is not necessary, but you can let us know on Facebook if you are coming –

A mysterious character Genghis-Korn will join us and present his point of view.

The protest event performance will also be streamed live on the Radio Liberty-in-Exile channel,