Congress asks Biden to protect RFE / RL from Kremlin pressure
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Amendments to Russian Foreign Agents Law Threatens Multimillion-Dollar Fines and Criminal Charges Against News Organization Employees
Five members of the House of Representatives on Friday called on the administration of President Joe Biden to defend Radio Liberty / Radio Free Europe (RFE / RL) from the actions of the Russian authorities.
«We urge the Biden administration to immediately begin countering the Russian government», – said in an appeal to the President of the United States, which was signed by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Gregory Meeks, his deputy, Republican Michael McCall, as well as Democrats Marcy Captur, William Kitting and Republican Adam Kinzinger.
Radio Liberty, a United States-funded news organization, faced the threat of multimillion-dollar fines and possible criminal charges against its employees after the Kremlin accused RFE / RL of violating the foreign agent law. New amendments to this law require media outlets that receive foreign funding to label all of their content as «created by a foreign agent».
Legislators noted that Radio Liberty journalists refused to accompany the content they created with such a mark. «for fear that this would discredit their work». Congressmen called on the Biden administration to immediately make it clear to the Kremlin that «restrictions on RFE / RL, its affiliates and employees are unacceptable and that … criminal prosecution of RFE / RL employees will have serious consequences».
The authors of the letter called on the Joe Biden administration to consider the issue of new sanctions against Russian officials, as well as to demand that Moscow comply with the principle of reciprocity. «the conditions that Western media such as RFE / RL face in Russia, the conditions under which Russian state news agencies such as RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik operate here in the United States».
Radio Liberty is an international media outlet overseen by the United States Global Media Agency, the parent organization «Voices of America».
Kremlin critics believe the updates to the Russian foreign agents law allow the authorities to arbitrarily target civilian and political activists and human rights defenders..
Gulnoza Said, European and Central Asian Program Coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said last week that the Russian law on foreign agents is being used to «punishing journalists, as well as for harassing … media organizations».
The human rights organization Amnesty International said that the law «drastically limits and damages not only civil society institutions receiving funds from outside Russia, but also many other groups»