Czech Helsinki Committee protests Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty management practices, Russian opposition is drafting another protest
A premier human rights organization in the Czech Republic, The Czech Helsinki Committee (CHC) has published another protest against management and personnel practices of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and its U.S. government parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors. PDF File of the CHC Letter
In its latest protest, addressed to the Chairman and Co-Chairman of the United States Helsinki Commission, Rep. Chris Smith and Senator Benjamin Cardin, the Chairwoman of the Czech Helsinki Committee condemns the discrimination of foreign-born journalists employed by RFE/RL as well as the latest outrage of the RFE/RL management, the mass firing of journalists at the Radio Liberty Moscow bureau and the cancelation of numerous human rights programs.
BBG Watch has learned that a group of young Radio Liberty listeners is using Facebook and other social media to organize a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Tuesday. They want to express their solidarity with RFE/RL journalists like Kristina Gorelik, Elena Vlasenko and others, who were previously covering anti-Kremlin protests in which these Radio Liberty listeners participated. They were not only fired or resigned in protest and their programs suddenly canceled, security guards especially hired for this purpose by the RFE/RL management prevented these journalists from saying good bye to their radio and website audience. Many of these journalists were young, as are the organizers of Tuesday’s protest action in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
A group of major opposition political leaders in Russia is planning to issue a letter of protest on Wednesday, BBG Watch has learned. Some, like former President Mikhail Gorbachev, have already criticized the actions of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty executives.
The following report was sent to BBG Watch from Prague by a former Radio Liberty journalist.
The attached letter by Czech Helsinki Committee signed by Anna Sabatova, was sent short time ago to U.S. Helsinki Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org). The forwarding e-mail by CHC office manager:
“Subject: urgent from Czech Helsinki Committee to Rep. Smith, Sen. Cardin
Honorable Chairman of U.S. Helsinki Commission, honorable Co-Chairman of U.S. Helsinki Commission, I would like to send you the letter from the Czech Helsinki Committee, signed by the Chairwoman of Czech Helsinki Committee Anna Sabatova, which is attached.
I would greatly appreciate it if you could discuss our request at the meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors scheduled for October 11 in Washington.”
CHC letter provides the picture of internationalization of the scandal and brings under one roof events in Prague and Moscow:
“Mrs. Pelivan has officially requested the government of Croatia to support her claim against Czech Republic in European Court of Human Rights. Czech Helsinki Committee is also aware of reported by Czech and foreign media, in particular by The Croatian Times, Pelivan’s and Karapetian’s intention to appeal against Czech Republic and the United States to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. It means further internationalization of the scandal already caused by RFE/RL actions and policies.
BBG, according to U.S. International Broadcasting Act of 1994, “makes all major policy determinations governing the operations of RFE/RL.” Czech Helsinki Committee does not believe that RFE/RL labor policies, even if they suit RFE/RL American management in Prague or BBG administration in Washington, serve the best interests of RFE/RL host country, the Czech Republic, and the United States financing RFE/RL as the tool of American public diplomacy.
Czech Helsinki Committee is equally informed that on September 27, 2012, just a few days prior to this letter, a group of prominent Russian public figures including Lyudmila Alekseyeva, Head of Moscow Helsinki Group, has appealed personally to the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and you, Senator Cardin, with request to set up a Congressional commission in order “to investigate the activities of the Radio Liberty’s management, which inflicted damage to the image of the United States in Russia.” Public scandal in Russia is caused by unfounded mass firings in Moscow bureau of RFE/RL. We consider deplorable RFE/RL’s activities in Prague and presently in Moscow to be the links of the same chain.”
Anna Sabatova is the winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize (1998) bestowed also upon Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, and such organizations as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The UN Human Rights Prize is awarded once in five years to ”honor and commend people and organizations which have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other United Nations human rights instruments.” Incidentally, Mrs. Sabatova is also laureate of Alice G. Masaryk Human Rights Award bestowed by U.S. Embassy in Prague (in memory of American wife of the first President of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk) :
“U.S. Embassy Prague is proud to present the 2010 Alice G. Masaryk Human Rights Award to Anna Šabatová for her dedication to promoting human rights in the Czech Republic (…) Today, she continues to be a driving force for human rights in the Czech Republic and across Europe (…) The award is also a symbol of the enduring, deep concern of Americans and Czechs for the promotion and protection of human rights on all fronts.” (http://prague.usembassy.gov/human-rights-day-2010.html)
I dare to doubt if Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Steven Korn and/or Vice President Julia Ragona will be ever considered for that award. — former Radio Liberty journalist