Radio Liberty, a branch of Radio Free Europe, will abandon the airwaves in Russia after 60 years of broadcasting. The station was driven from the airwaves by a new law pushed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that bars foreign-owned media from broadcasting on AM radio frequencies, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
While abandoning the airwaves, the station’s content will still be available on their website. Critics, however, see the move as part of a larger plan by Radio Free Europe to move away from the costly radio business and to avoid angering Putin.
“This is capitulating to Putin, and Putin is very sophisticated and knows how to work the Americans,” a RFE source told the Free Beacon. “The reaction [by the Obama administration] has been too limp.”
“It doesn’t surprise me in the least that there’s been little pushback from the administration because they don’t want to piss off the Russians,” the source added.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees the radio operations said their hand was forced by the law and their critics are wrong.
“Some of our critics claim quite incorrectly that we are withdrawing or retrenching in Russia,” BBG’s President Steven Korn told the BBG’s board during its monthly meeting last week according to the Beacon. “Nothing could be further from the truth. We are adapting to change conditions with a new strategy and focus.”
He added the U.S. government is “not decreasing the amount of money” spent on funding Radio Liberty and is moving to the internet and other new media to reach a younger audience of Russian dissidents.
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