Radio Free Europe named ‘undesirable organisation’ by Russian government

The Russian Ministry of Justice added the US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) to its list of “undesirable organisations” on Tuesday, according to its website, making it illegal in Russia.

The Prague-based broadcaster, which broadcasts to 23 countries with limited media freedom in 27 languages, is a non-profit organisation funded by the United States government through the US Agency for Global Media.

RFE/RL shuttered its Moscow office in 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and its website has been blocked in the country since it refused a demand by Russia’s media regulator to delete various materials from its coverage of the war.

Last year, RFE/RL was declared bankrupt in Russia after refusing to pay fines totalling over €10 million for its failure to abide by Russia’s “foreign agent” law, which it said amounted “to political censorship meant to prevent journalists from performing their professional duties”.

Vasily Piskaryov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security and Corruption Control, said that any organisation that “sullies our country and attempts to destroy Russia” could be labelled undesirable.

There are currently 142 organisations on the “undesirable” list. These include Novaya Gazeta Europe as well as independent media outlets Dozhd, Meduza, The Insider and Bellingcat.

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