CUSIB Joins the Rally Cry for Radio Liberty Supporters

CUSIB - Supporting journalism for media freedom and human rights
October 10, 2012
For Immediate Release

CUSIB Joins the Rally Cry for Radio Liberty Supporters

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) stands in solidarity with Radio Liberty supporters and listeners who demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow Tuesday against the mass firing of Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) journalists, web editors, and other staffers. Russian and international media covered the protest.

CUSIB remains aggrieved that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is doing nothing to remedy this outrage against U.S. public diplomacy interests and human decency.

CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan stated: “Providing a voice for dissenting opinions and peaceful demonstrations are the hallmarks of a democratic society, yet the wholesale firing of reporters who covered these events amounts to complicity by the management of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) with the anti-democratic elements in Putin’s Russia. The RFE/RL and the BBG must not abandon the core principles of their mission statement as they apply to broadcasts to countries with censorship and oppression.”

The Radio Liberty firings occurred in a two-day purge orchestrated last month by the management of RFE/RL who used specially hired guards to provide the necessary degree of coercion. After being deceived into believing that employees would finally be getting medical insurance, moving to a new facility, and receive new training, Radio Liberty journalists saw RFE/RL’s American officials use their security guards to block the entrance to the building and instead announce the employees’ terminations. The management of the U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasting station then prevented longtime Radio Liberty radio hosts and website editors from airing and posting their human rights programs and did not even allow them to say good bye to their radio listeners and website visitors.

CUSIB Director and co-founder Ted Lipien stated: “The decision to fire journalists and silence human rights programs was not related to funding. The decision was made by the American management. A new director for the Russian Service was hired and the staff, which made Radio Liberty a human rights station, had to go. The excuse was the loss of an AM transmitter in Moscow due to a change in Russian law, but RFE/RL management did not try hard to find alternative rebroadcasting arrangements. They also claim the need for a digital transformation, but they fired the entire Internet team that made Radio Liberty website and social outreach in Russia one of the best in that market.”

A young Russian journalism student Kirill Filimonov (photo) was detained at Tuesday’s protest by the police but later released and, undeterred, continued the picket with mostly young Russian demonstrators in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Lyudmila Alexeeva and other prominent human rights leaders in Russia have sent a protest letter to Secretary Clinton and the U.S. Congress. Major opposition political leaders in Russia have also spoken up against the mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists and what they see as the United States turning its back on pro-democracy Russians. Former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev has also criticized the actions of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty executives.

For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069
Ted Lipien, co-founder
Tel. 415-793-1642

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments.