Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) today condemned a Russian court’s decision to levy steep fines against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
“USAGM is very disappointed with the court’s decision, which can only be interpreted as an assault on media freedom and the free flow of information to Russia’s citizens. I have every confidence in RFE/RL as they continue to provide audiences in Russia with access to truthful, impactful reporting,” said USAGM Acting Chief Executive Officer Kelu Chao.
Russia’s revised “foreign agent” law requires designated news organizations in Russia that receive foreign funding to prominently label all content, including social media, as foreign agent-produced. Most of the organizations so designated by the Russian Ministry of Justice are USAGM public service media outlets, predominantly associated with RFE/RL. The law, originally passed in 2012 and amended in 2020 to include individual journalists, also imposes regular financial reporting requirements on these outlets. Given that USAGM’s legislatively mandated firewall prohibits its networks from accepting editorial direction from the U.S. government, RFE/RL has refused to label its content in such a wholly inaccurate manner.
In filing more than 250 violations of “foreign agent” regulations, the Kremlin has specifically targeted nine of RFE/RL’s reporting projects: Radio Liberty, its main service for Russia; the Current Time TV and digital network serving a global Russian-speaking audience; the regional reporting projects North.Realities, Siberia.Realities, Caucasus.Realities, Idel.Realities, and Crimea.Realities; the Tatar-Bashkir Service; and the fact-checking website Factograph.info. Additionally, in late December, the Kremlin named three RFE/RL freelance reporters as individual “foreign agent” journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said Russia should repeal the foreign agent law and “ensure that the country’s regulator is not used to censure journalists and harass and threaten media organizations.” Amnesty International said Russia’s foreign agent law “further erodes freedom of expression and association” in that country.
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Acting Director, Office of Public Affairs