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‘Freedom of Containment’: What’s wrong with the biggest Russian media project of the US Congress Radio Liberty?

Author: Toomas Kaas.

For the second reading, the State Parliament of the Russian Federation passed a bill on the possibility of recognizing individuals as agents of foreign influence – recall that since 2012, according to Russian laws, the status of foreign agents is mandatory for non-profit legal entities (NPO) with external funding, including the media represented in Russia. Senator Andrei Klimov, who heads the commission for the protection of Russia from external interference, proposed to immediately adopt these amendments, which would expand the list of foreign agents, which is necessary for the development of Russian state security.

Freedom of expression or foreign network?

Recently, at a meeting with representatives of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin announced his desire to protect the state from foreign interference. Hundreds of Russian citizens, members of the public, journalists and bloggers create materials and audiovisual content, receiving money from various government agencies in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. The content sometimes falls into the mainstream of the development of freedom of speech and the development of democracy, but unfortunately, too often it also bears signs of xenophobia and anti-Russian orientation.

‘Our people are honest and kind, organizing their work correctly, but those who pay them, as a rule, are guided by other goals, not to strengthen Russia, but to contain, this is the whole essence of the problem,’ said President Vladimir Putin. The total funding for foreign information projects in Russian is one billion rubles a year. 

Do you understand the difference between free speech, including criticism, and restraint? Russia does not behave restraining in the European Union and other countries of the collective West, but Russia has the right to demand symmetry so that foreign agents do not sway xenophobia in Moscow, Kaliningrad, Grozny, Vladivostok and in all federal subjects that are part of the Russian Federation without exception. This is a matter of state security, and only now the legislators have taken up this. There will be no criminal cases against agents of influence, but they will be taken into account and marked.

Apparently, in January 2021, employees of various projects and structures of the largest American media mission Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, RFE/RL, which produces or rebroadcasts various media content, will receive the status of foreign agents. number on the territory of Russia. This international non-profit broadcasting organization is funded by the US Congress. The trustee is the U.S. Agency for Global Media, formerly Broadcasting Board of Governors, is a US government agency. The AGM’s governing bodies include the US Secretary of State (currently Michael Pompeo) and eight members appointed by the US President and confirmed by the Senate. Funding for RFE/RL in 2020, according to open sources, is $ 87 million.

The office of the Russian-language editorial office of this structure of America’s foreign information policy, broadcasting in 27 languages ​​in Europe and Asia, is located in Prague. Director of the Russian Service – Andrey Shary; editor-in-chief of the Moscow Bureau of the Russian Service – Evgenia Nazarets; chief of the correspondent network in Russia, Sibreal and Severreal websites – Yulia Muchnik. All of these are, of course, experienced journalists, creative intellectuals and professionals in their field. But all these guys and ladies, the entire ramified network of authors of the projects of this corporation created since the Cold War of the West and the Soviet Union, according to the new bill, will soon acquire the status of agents of foreign influence. American Limited Liability Company Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (LLC RSE/RS) was registered in the RF Unified State Register of Legal Entities by the Interdistrict Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service of Russia No. 46 in Moscow on January 24, 2020 and has the status of a foreign agent.

Disinformation stuffing

Of course, freedom of speech is the cornerstone intrinsic value of democracy in Russia and throughout the world, and restrictions on pluralism of opinions are unacceptable in modern society. However, it is the Russian service RFE/RL, with rare exceptions, that purposefully conducts anti-Russian propaganda from the Czech capital, collecting and paying for the content of the network of its authors living in Russia, as well as scaling broadcasting in the most liberal Russian media, like Dozhd. The corporation has been repeatedly accused of information stuffing, deliberate disinformation and distortion of the context of events and phenomena in Russian politics and economy.

The American media corporation has been repeatedly convicted of biased one-sided coverage of events, distortion of facts and lies. In July of this year, in Russia, the service of Radio Liberty drew up a protocol on the case of fakes about coronavirus: correspondent Tatyana Voltskaya, for the sake of sensation, said that in Moscow ‘doctors have to decide the issue of disconnecting hopeless patients from ventilators in order to save the lives of other patients’… In August, the Moscow Magistrates’ Court fined Radio Liberty under Part 9 of Art. 13.15 of the Administrative Code (Abuse of Freedom of the Media).

The hype around the coronavirus and the lack of professionalism of the Moscow author of the American corporation Mrs. Voltskaya are, however, a trifle. The Russian anti-fake portal http://vbrosam.net (a resource associated with the Russian Security Council, Russian language) devoted to the anatomy of a fake in an interview with Andrei Illarionov to Radio Liberty. Former adviser to Vladimir Putin, now working at the Cato Institute (USA), Illarionov said that the sanctions Kremlin list, prepared for six months and presented by the US Treasury Department, is a meaningless document, which does not contain the names of Russia’s real political beneficiaries.

Deep fakes under sanctions

According to Vbrosam.net, the Kremlin list shows that A. Illarionov and Comrades, like Radio Liberty, were used by the special services of the United States, as they say, in the dark. ‘The list reflects a very definite approach of the American administration to assessing the influence of Russia’ … Its content shows that the current American leadership does not distinguish between ‘St. Petersburg lawyers’ and ‘systemic liberals’.

The main reason for this particular approach, in our opinion, is that, according to the American leadership, the huge money that is in the West and is of Russian origin has become dangerous for the Western economy and political system (the situation is comical due to the fact that the law On Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the administration of President Trump, who is suspected of being elected by Russian hackers and the Russian authorities, bears responsibility for the implementation of anti-Russian sanctions.

America is trying to sow concern among the Russian political and business elite, to convince its representatives that V.V. Putin, which led to a confrontation with America, could result in great losses for her.

Therefore, all these statements (by the emigrant A. Illarionov and RFE / RL are an obvious fake, they represent an attempt to  ‘make a good face in a bad game‘ and justify themselves, since the indicated gentlemen-lobbyists probably gave promises to people who did get on the list, but did not justify the hopes placed on them. ‘On the eve of the presentation of the open part of the report in Congress, A. Illarionov said in an interview with Kyev ‘Facts‘: ‘The Kremlin was really nervous, and the stomp of Russians who are afraid of its publication‘. We confirm: there was a stomp. We also heard it.

The stuffing of false information and the maneuvers of the American special services would look really comical, but damn it, what does freedom of speech have to do with it? The standards of honest and independent journalism have tragically changed, and Radio Liberty has become a well-paid weapon of propaganda and xenophobia against Russia. I think this is impossible in Estonia or in any other country. EU Foreign agent markers in relation to all Russian producers of anti-Russian propaganda will be introduced in the very near future, apparently. At the same time, the Russian special services never plan to arrest, open criminal cases and send these guys to hard labor in Siberia, these are just formal markers that reveal  ‘who is who‘ in the liberal Russian media field. RFE/RL’s creative team and curators should start getting used to the changed roadmap of Russian political reality.




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