Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

U.S.-Funded RFE/RL to Move Staff Out of Russia Over Crippling ‘Foreign Agent’ Fines – BBC

RFE/RL faces nearly $1 million in fines for violations related to its “foreign agent” designation in Russia, a move its president calls “illegitimate.” Mikhail Pochuyev / TASS

The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) news outlet has offered some of its staff the opportunity to leave Russia as it faces crippling “foreign agent” fines, BBC Russia reported Wednesday.

The move comes after Russia fined RFE/RL nearly $1 million for violating tagging requirements related to its “foreign agent” designation. Russia’s newly tightened “foreign agents” law could also lead to website closures and prison time for RFE/RL’s employees.

Citing nine unnamed employees, BBC’s Russian-language service reported that several dozen full-time staff at RFE/RL’s Russian-language affiliate Radio Svoboda and its Current Time broadcaster were offered relocation to Prague or Kiev. 

“We’re currently negotiating with employees, the company will provide all the needed assistance if someone agrees to leave,” one of the employees was quoted as saying.

A small team is expected to remain in Moscow “to maintain minimal work,” BBC reported. The relocations, which do not yet affect RFE/RL’s regional freelancers, are reportedly expected to begin in May.

Radio Svoboda’s press office said in response that it plans to stay open and confront “the Kremlin’s attacks.”

Earlier this month, Russia’s media watchdog warned RFE/RL that it had 60 days to pay off its “foreign agent” fines.

A Russian court had ordered RFE/RL to pay nearly $1 million in fines after considering two-thirds of the total complaints against it for failing to label nine of its websites operating in Russia with the designation.

RFE/RL president Jamie Fly said Russia’s “illegitimate” fines aimed to muzzle the broadcaster “at a moment when the Kremlin is trying to limit the Russian people’s access to information.”

Critics say the recent expansions to Russia’s 2012 “foreign agent” law are designed to stifle dissent ahead of this fall’s legislative elections.

Russia labeled RFE/RL and its regional affiliates “foreign agents” in 2017 after the United States required Kremlin-funded media to register under anti-propaganda laws.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more