Radio Liberty listeners appeal to President Obama to bring back fired Radio Liberty journalists, restore radio programs

Individual listeners of Radio Liberty continuing their protest at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday. The main demonstration of Radio Liberty listeners in front of the embassy was on Tuesday.

Kirill Filimonov Detained by Police at U.S. Embassy Moscow

Kirill Filimonov detained by police at U.S. Embassy in Moscow during the demonstration of Radio Liberty listeners on Tuesday

“We demand that a compromise with Russian authorities be found so that Radio
Svoboda continues medium-wave broadcasting. We demand that the fired
journalists be hired back. Probably the journalists, who quit Radio Svoboda to
show solidarity with their colleagues, will then come back. Obviously these are the
necessary measures to support the rise of the civic society in Russia, which is our
only possible response to the approaching totalitarianism.” — from Radio Liberty listeners’ appeal to the United States Government

Petition of Radio Liberty Listeners

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, D.C. 20500

Vice President Joe Biden
Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20501

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, D.C.
20520

The Honorable Tara Sonenshine
Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. 20520

The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Kerry

Members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
330 IndependenceAvenue, SW
Washington, DC 20237

October 8

Dear Sirs,

We have been listening to RFE/RL Russian Service (Radio Svoboda) for many
years. Now we are very concerned over its destiny. After the majority of the
Moscow bureau journalists were fired, the listeners were told that Radio
Svoboda would stop medium-wave broadcasting in Russia, a decision stipulated by
a new Russian law. This is why we are addressing to you in a hope that something
could be done to change the terrible things that happened.

Almost all Moscow bureau journalists, specializing in democracy and human rights
issues, were fired in just two days with no clear explanation. They just
disappeared, without even having a chance to say good-bye to their listeners. The
dismissal was so indecent that those who were not fired decided to quit. We still do
not know the names of those who were hired instead of the former workers. We
have no proof that Radio Svoboda will continue its independent policy.

As we were told that Radio Svoboda would now broadcast online, and the website
would be changed, we do not understand why the young and professional online
editorial team had to be fired, too. Besides, a lot of listeners live in small towns and
villages with no access to the Internet. After Radio Svoboda stops medium-wave
broadcasting, they will lose the unbiased and objective source of information,
being able to watch nothing but state-owned TV channels.

Why did not anyone think about us, the devoted listeners of RFE/RL?

People of the older generation remember how valuable Radio Svoboda’s programs
were for USSR citizens. Much has changed in Russia since then. But the current
political vector is different from the one that we had in late 1980’s and early
1990’s. The pressure on opposition and civic society in Putin’s Russia increases
every day. Repressive laws are passed, biased trials are held, independent media
close or become dependent on the Kremlin. In this context Radio Svoboda’s voice
is crucially important for us. It seems that promoting democracy, which has always
been an important part of U.S. policy toward Russia and U.S. public policy in
general, is no longer important for the American administration. Our
disappointment is immense.

We demand that a compromise with Russian authorities be found so that Radio
Svoboda continues medium-wave broadcasting. We demand that the fired
journalists be hired back. Probably the journalists, who quit Radio Svoboda to
show solidarity with their colleagues, will then come back. Obviously these are the
necessary measures to support the rise of the civic society in Russia, which is our
only possible response to the approaching totalitarianism.

Best Regards,

Radio Svoboda listeners.

We collected mote than 1,000 signatures under this petition in just a one day! URL:
http://www.change.org/ru/петиции/остановите-уничтожение-русской-службы-радио-свобода

As of early morning October 11, the petition has close to 2000 signatures.

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