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The corporation has already been fined for a total amount of more than 15 million rubles
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Corporation said that the authorities of the Russian Federation are violating the bilateral agreement with the Czech Republic on the protection of investments – in connection with actions aimed at obstructing the work of the organization in Russia under the pretext of applying the law on foreign agents.
RFE / RL issued such a statement on February 11, after the corporation was fined several times over the past few weeks at the initiative of Roskomnadzor. Roskomnadzor requires RFE / RL to adhere to strict rules for labeling content published on the territory of Russia, in particular, before the start of each video, radio or television program, it is necessary to post a 15-second video or audio caption that the material was produced by a foreign agent. Mentions of this, according to the requirements of Roskomnadzor, should open any material of the corporation’s journalists on any Internet platforms, including posts in instant messengers and social networks..
RFE / RL, one of three news organizations included by the Russian Ministry of Justice in the list of foreign media agents, and the only one under sanctions for this, does not comply with these requirements. The corporation notes that Roskomnadzor treats RFE / RL significantly tougher than other foreign media working in Russia..
According to the information available now, Roskomnadzor intends to submit to the court a total of 260 protocols fixing non-compliance with the new requirements. The total amount of fines may amount to 75 million rubles. The court of first instance in recent weeks has already imposed fines on the corporation totaling more than 15 million rubles. These court decisions are appealed in accordance with the procedure established by law, RFE / RL considers them to be contrary to the right of citizens to free access to information..
The corporation’s statement states that by its actions Moscow is violating the bilateral agreement on investment protection concluded between Russia and the Czech Republic in 1994. The statement calls on the Russian authorities to negotiate with a view to resolving the conflict. Otherwise, a claim may be filed against the Russian Federation in international arbitration..
The repressive measures on the part of the Russian authorities are a nervous reaction from Moscow, the goal of which is to deprive Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty of the opportunity to work in Russia at a time when our audience is growing at a fast pace, ” said the editor-in-chief and acting president of RFE / RS Daisy Sindelar. – We intend to use all legal methods to protect our work in Russia, so that we can continue to engage in honest and non-pressured journalism – exactly what the audience expects of us..
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty is a privately held, nonprofit media organization funded by Congress and registered in the United States. American law guarantees the independence of the editorial policy of the corporation. The headquarters of the organization has been located in Prague since 1995, operating in the Czech Republic, in accordance with national legislation, as a representative office of the corporation. For this reason, RFE / RL believes that its investments in Russia should be protected in accordance with the agreement between the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation..
In Russia, RFE / RL’s Russian-language projects, including Radio Liberty and Present Time, have dozens of full-time employees and a network of hundreds of freelance correspondents. It is one of the largest foreign independent media organizations operating in Russia, with a weekly audience of 6.7 million people..
- Legislation on foreign agents, passed in 2012 and then repeatedly expanded, requires non-profit organizations that receive funding from abroad and that the Russian authorities consider to be engaged in political activities to report on their work, as well as post references to the listing of foreign agents … Radio Liberty, TV Channel Present Time and other projects of the media corporation were included in the list of media outlets – foreign agents in 2017. Before the new rules developed by Roskomnadzor came into force at the end of last year, apart from the fair legislation on foreign agents, RFE / RL nevertheless complied with its requirements.
- Over the years that Vladimir Putin was in power, the pressure on independent journalists in Russia has increased significantly. In the Freedom of the press in the world of the organization Reporters Without Borders, Russia is ranked 149 out of 180 positions.
- A few weeks ago, a group of American lawmakers called on the US administration to impose sanctions on Moscow if the Russian authorities increased pressure on RFE / RL..