Leading Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeeva responds to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) president Steven Korn’s decision to fire dozens of Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) journalists, plus Internet and social media specialists, and to cancel their programs focusing on social, political, and human rights issues in Russia. This video has English subtitles.
Lyudmila Alexeeeva witnessed how RFE/RL executives used guards to bar journalists from entering their news bureau in Moscow. She was at the time being interviewed by Radio Liberty’s human rights reporter Kristina Gorelik who was also fired. But because Alexeeva and Gorelik were already inside, Gorelik was able to say good bye to her radio and online audience unlike her other colleagues who were prevented by RFE/RL from saying farewell to their listeners and website visitors.
In her response to Mr. Korn, Lyudmila Alexeeva alluded to his claims that Radio Liberty needs to transition to digital media and to focus on a younder audience.
Many of the staffers who were fired were young members of the Internet team, and among those who were fired or resigned in protest were video journalists and technicians who pioneered live online streaming of video from political demonstrations and political trials in Russia. Critics charge that Mr. Korn fired all these highly qualified professionals in order to allow the new Russian Service director to bring in her own friends and associates, many of whom have no multimedia experience.
LYUDMILA ALEXEEVA: “In the words of Mr. Korn, the station should not work the way it has worked for the entire last 60 years.
Although it was true to its name and it was respected because of it in this country. I can attest to it as someone who since 1977 has been freelancing for Radio Liberty.
With the exception of the last few weeks, since 1977, I have not missed a single week being on the air, regardless of what was going on in my life, because I had great respect for these words ‘Liberty,’ ‘Radio Liberty.’
And I thought we were working the right way.
You are saying that now we need to work differently because the world has changed.
Of course, and our country has changed. But Mr. Korn, we have also changed as our country has changed. And the people who have worked at Radio Liberty, they have also changed in the last 20 years.
And believe me, we understand our listeners better then you who do not speak our language.
May be you want to make Radio Liberty a beautiful station using all your strengths. I have concluded that Radio Liberty is interesting. It has its niche. It has its listeners.
When does the new programming start? November 10, I think. You already in September, in one day…
You know, even in conditions of our wild capitalism, which the whole world finds repugnant, people are not treated the way you treated the people at Radio Liberty.
I was at Radio Liberty on that day. I don’t go there too often. It was a shock for everybody and for me too.
OK, we did not work the right way. May be it’s difficult to see it from the inside. May be. You talk about this and that, about telephones. But about this glorious concept, which forms the basis of programming, I don’t know. What is this concept?
What is this concept? What’s in it? Can you explain it to me? Why did you kill the old Radio Liberty already in September?
You didn’t wait till November 10. Why did you do it? Why? So that we would hear what? How are you going to create this?
You said that you will increase the number of freelancers.
I don’t know to whom you will turn with this proposal. I don’t know if I will be among them. I work the old way since 1977. You understand?
I am obviously too old and hopeless. But who will be the new freelancers?
About what will they be required to talk that we did not talk about?
And about what will they be silent that we were not silent about?
Can you answer for me this question? And this for me more important than all the talk about the frequencies and new youthful audience.
May be it’s true that you should broadcast to a young audience. But you also have to tell something to the youth.
It would be interesting for me to know what exactly is this concept for which you kicked out everybody and brought in Masha Gessen and who knows who else.”