Radio Liberty to Stop Medium Wave Broadcasting in Russia

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Sept. 25 – Radio Liberty will stop medium wave broadcasting in Moscow on November 10, and will switch over to multimedia Internet broadcasting to comply with a new Russian law.

The new law will ban radio broadcasting in Russia by companies that are more than 48 percent owned by foreign individuals or legal entities.

“We are not giving up on our commitment to provide you with Svoboda’s unique perspective on news and events in Russia,” wrote Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Steve Korn, referring to the network’s Russian name, Radio Svoboda, in a statement posted on the network’s website Monday.

Radio Liberty will now focus on digital platforms, including web and mobile devices, and on-demand and live content, Korn wrote.

Julia Ragona, another senior official with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said service plans not only expand its online content, but also will continue broadcasting on shortwave radio.

The same law, signed by Russian President Putin in July, will brand non-governmental organizations engaged in political activity that receive grants from abroad as “foreign agents,” a measure that has been roundly condemned by opposition and local civil rights activists.

The law showed its teeth on September 19, when the Russian government declared that all activities of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) “must be halted from October 1 in Russia.” Russia accused that the USAID agency was seeking to influence domestic politics, adding that the organization had until October 1 to halt all activities, reports.

Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin alleged that US-funded NGOs orchestrated protests surrounding his re-election.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty operates under the authority of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent federal agency responsible for all US government and government-sponsored, non-military, international broadcasting. Voice of America also operates under the BBG.

“Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his conviction that Washington is trying to foment anti-government sentiment and political change in Russia – and that it is doing so by funding Russian NGOs and democracy programs,” analyst Steve Rosenberg writes in his column on “USAID’s commitment to building a civil society is viewed by Russian officials as an attempt to spark revolution.”

Radio Liberty is headquarters in Prague. On July 4, 1950, Radio Free Europe went on the air for the first time with a broadcast to communist Czechoslovakia from a studio in New York City’s Empire State Building.

Today, the network reaches nearly 20 million people in 28 languages and 21 countries including Russia, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Radio Liberty is the last among the well-known foreign radio stations declaring termination of an on-air broadcasting in Russia. Voice of America completely switched over to Internet broadcasting in 2008, Radio France Internationale in 2009, while BBC Russian service and Deutsche Welle switched last year.

The only foreign radio station that still broadcasts in Russia is China Radio International, which belongs to the Chinese government but surprisingly not a subject to the new Russian law.

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