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Russia's Shrinking Free Media Environment


Voice of America's satellite dishes in Washington, D.C.

The Russian government continues to cut the Russian people off from independent voices and from media perspectives that differ from the state’s controlled narratives.

The Russian government continues to cut the Russian people off from independent voices and from media perspectives that differ from the state’s controlled narratives.

Most recently, Russian authorities have stopped Voice of America’s radio broadcasts in Moscow, thereby silencing the last vestige of U.S. international radio broadcasting in the country. In a one-sentence letter, the director of Russia’s information agency Rossiya Segodnya, or Russia Today, Dmitry Kiselev announced that “we are not going to cooperate” with the request by VOA’s parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to continue a long-standing contract for broadcasting on Russian soil.

Russian media -- including RT television -- enjoy open access to the airwaves in the United States and around the world. The Russian people deserve the same freedom to access information.”
The Broadcasting Board of Governors condemned the decision. In a statement, BBG Chairman Jeff Shell noted that “Russian media -- including RT television -- enjoy open access to the airwaves in the United States and around the world. The Russian people deserve the same freedom to access information.”

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow noted in a statement that the silencing of VOA is the latest effort by Russia to decrease space for independent and free media in the country.

“In the last year, the Russian Government has passed laws imposing unprecedented censorship and restrictions on media and online publications. In the past few months alone, it has blocked independent websites and blogs…denied visas and accreditation to foreign professional journalists; and forced leadership changes at several media outlets simply because those outlets dared to challenge the Kremlin’s extremist policies.”

In addition the embassy said, “Not only has the Russian government ignored harassment, attacks, death threats and kidnappings of journalists in Russia and Crimea, it has made no progress in prosecuting the murders of several other journalists, including American journalist Paul Klebnikov and Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya.”

The United States supports the fundamental right of all Russians to exercise their freedoms of expression and assembly – rights enshrined in the Russian constitution as well as in international agreements to which Russia is a party. The U.S. calls on the Russian government to respect those rights it has committed to protect.
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