Russian opposition leaders say Radio Liberty is no longer a reliable source of information
“In the last few years Putin’s authoritarian regime intensified its offensive on Russian media.”
“In this precise moment the civil society has been deprived of an important and reliable source of information, which Radio Liberty has been for decades, as well as of its analyses and responsible commentaries. Broadcasting on AM has been interrupted. A significant number of its staff, many of whom enjoyed deserved authority and respect both in the professional media environment and among a large audience, has been dismissed.” — Russian Opposition Coordination Council
In a letter to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) newly-appointed acting president Kevin Klose, several leaders of the anti-Putin opposition, including former reformist Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and Andrey Illarionov, a former economic policy advisor to President Putin who resigned in protest over Putin’s authoritarian rule, wrote that the civil society in Russia “has been deprived of an important and reliable source of information, which Radio Liberty has been for decades.”
Andrey Illarionov currently works as a senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. He is identified on the Cato Institute website as one of Russia’s most forceful and articulate advocates of an open society and democratic capitalism.
The letter to RFE/RL acting president Kevin Klose was also signed by anti-Putin political activist Garry Kasparov, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.
Another signatory, Andrey Piontkovsky, is a Russian scientist and political writer and analyst. He has been an outspoken critic of Putin’s “managed” democracy and has described Russia as a “soft totalitarian regime.”
Vladislav Naganov is a leader of the executive committee of the People’s Alliance Party.
Anton Dolgikh is a lawyer and human rights activist from Kirov.
Georgii Alburov is a member of the organizational committee of the People’s Alliance Party.
Andrei Pivovarov is a businessman from St Petersburg and member of the “Civil Responsibility” movement.
Many other Russian democratic political leaders and human rights activists, including this year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominee Lyudmila Alexeeva, have signed other letters and petitions demanding the return of the fired Radio Liberty journalists and restoration of their programs.
Kevin Klose is scheduled to meet in Moscow on February 19 with Russian opposition leaders and with representatives of the fired Radio Liberty journalists. Klose was selected by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to resolve the crisis caused by the mass firing of Radio Liberty staff last September under his predecessor Steven Korn.
To Mr Kevin Klose
President of RFE/RL
Dear Mr. Klose
In the last few years Putin’s authoritarian regime intensified its offensive on Russian media. Total censorship was introduced in federal and almost all regional TV stations. On a daily basis the government exercises direct “political leadership” of the electronic and print media under the authorities’ control as well as of the commercial companies affiliated with them. Under different pretexts, the authorities try to influence the editorial policies of non-state owned media. Dozens of journalists and media managers have been fired and banned from their profession. Many opposition media have been closed or are about to be closed.
In this precise moment the civil society has been deprived of an important and reliable source of information, which Radio Liberty has been for decades, as well as of its analyses and responsible commentaries. Broadcasting on AM has been interrupted. A significant number of its staff, many of whom enjoyed deserved authority and respect both in the professional media environment and among a large audience, has been dismissed.
We are fully aware that the responsibility lies with the Russian authorities, who are consistently tightening up the legislation, both in order to erect new obstacles for the work of Radio Liberty and other radio stations which are not under the control of the Russian ruling group, and later to create a pretext for the final termination of their activity.
However we have serious reasons to believe that the management of Radio Liberty did not exploit all the opportunities to continue its full fledged broadcasting and that it has not exhausted all the legal means to preserve the radios’ ability to reach a significant Russian audience.
The Coordination Council of the opposition calls on the management of Radio Liberty to make every possible possible effort in order to resume a full fledged broadcasting of the radios’ programs.
We declare our readiness to facilitate in any possible way the return of Radio Liberty on the Russian airwaves, and we are also ready to provide the radio and its staff any assistance that might be required and that will be in our power to provide.
A. Illarionov,B.Nemtsov, A.Dolgikh, A.Piontkovsky, G.Kasparov, V.Naganov, A.Pivovarov, G.Alburov