Radio Free Europe is based in Prague: Russia declares foreign broadcaster an “undesirable organization”

Radio Free Europe is based in Prague
Russia declares foreign broadcaster an “undesirable organization”

Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government has taken even tougher action against the media and journalists. This now also applies to Radio Free Europe, a US station that is based in Prague and reports a lot about the war. A journalist from the station has been in custody in Russia for some time.

The US foreign broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has been declared an “undesirable organization” in Russia. The broadcaster based in Prague announced this. Russian media referred to a corresponding entry on the Ministry of Justice website. RFE/RL produces the radio program Radio Swoboda (Radio Freedom) and the TV news channel Current Time in Russian. “This attempt to suppress us will only make RFE/RL work harder to provide the Russian people with free and independent journalism,” said the channel’s director, Stephen Capus.

“It’s pretty clear that they don’t want their people to have information about what the Russian regime is doing abroad, what the Russian regime is doing to its own people,” said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, commenting on the ban.

Anyone who works with “undesirable organizations” in Russia must expect high fines and, in extreme cases, even imprisonment. Several years ago, the broadcaster, which is funded by the US Congress, had already been classified as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities. The broadcasting group’s employees are also threatened with legal prosecution in Russia.

RFE/RL journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who has dual Russian and U.S. citizenship, is currently in custody in Russia. Among other things, she is accused of not registering as a “foreign agent”. In Russia, people, media and organizations are branded as foreign agents if they receive money from another country. The aim is to stigmatize them as spies who work in the interests of other states.

Another US reporter in custody

Other US media employees are also being prosecuted. On Tuesday, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich failed in his objection to the extension of his pre-trial detention. A Moscow court ordered that he must remain in custody until March 30th, for a total of at least a year.

Gershkovich was arrested by the FSB secret service at the end of March last year during a research trip in the Urals. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the espionage charge. The reporter, his family, his employer and the US authorities reject the allegations.

Radio Free Europe was founded in 1949 at the height of the Cold War and broadcast from Munich for decades. At the invitation of the then Czech President Vaclav Havel, the radio house moved to Prague in 1995.

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