FreeMediaOnline.org and Free Media Online Blog October 3, 2008, San Francisco – As journalists, their organisations, and human rights and press freedom groups are preparing to commemorate the second anniversary of the killing of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, the International Federation of Journalists urged Friday all its affiliates worldwide to join the call for renewed efforts to end impunity in Russia. Link In response to the IFJ appeal, the U.S.-based media freedom nonprofit, FreeMediaOnline.org, has called on the Russian authorities to stop their repressive actions aimed against independent journalists. FreeMediaOnline.org is also urging the U.S. government to reverse questionable decisions affecting the media situation in Russia made by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which manages U.S.-funded international broadcasts to media-at-risk countries.
Since its founding in 2006, FreeMediaOnline.org has been publicizing the dangers facing Russian journalists. Those at risk include managers and reporters of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, RFE/RL, many of whom are Russian citizens who work and live in Russia with their families within easy reach of the Kremlin’s secret police.
FreeMediaOnline.org president Ted Lipien said that in light of the extreme dangers facing journalists in Russia, many are alarmed by the recent decision of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors to terminate all Voice of America (VOA) Russian-language radio broadcasts. These broadcasts originating in Washington, D.C., which helped to limit the Kremlin’s media monopoly by featuring on air discussions of human rights abuses, ended on July 26 on orders from the BBG, just 12 days before the Russian military forces attacked Georgia. They have not been resumed despite protests and demands from VOA journalists, members of Congress, and press freedom groups.
This BBG decision, Lipien said, makes RFE/RL and all other journalists in Russia more vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian security services and represents a victory for those responsible for Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. FreeMediaOnline.org urged supporters of media freedom to mark the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s death. The media freedom nonprofit also asked that they register their protest against the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ decisions by sending emails to the BBG executive director Jeff Trimble: firstname.lastname@example.org.