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RFE/RL Opens Offices in Latvia and Lithuania

New homes for its Russia and Belarus services

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has opened news bureaus in Latvia and Lithuania after suspending its operations in Russia March 6.

“These offices will house teams from RFE/RL’s Russia and Belarus services and the 24/7 Current Time global digital and TV network, and also provide a base for new investigative journalism projects and digital innovation hubs,” the organization announced.

The offices are in Rīga, Latvia, and Vilnius, Lithuania.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in the announcement, “These new bureaus will allow RFE/RL to continue to engage with our audiences in Russia and Belarus, despite those government’s best efforts to silence independent journalism.”

An image from the Twitter feed of the RFE/RL Russian Service shows a scene of violence in Ukraine. Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Fly thanked the the Latvian and Lithuanian governments for their support.

The organization said that in Rīga, it plans a “multimedia hub” that will host Russian Service and Current Time staff displaced from Russia.

“The Latvian capital will also house a new, Russian-language investigative journalism unit and a digital innovation hub designed to counter disinformation and develop strategies to circumvent online censorship across delivery platforms.”

[Related: “Russia Continues Campaign to Silence Media, RFE/RL Says”]

The Vilnius news bureau, it said, will primarily host displaced Belarus Service journalists and a reporting team being set up by Current Time to serve the needs of the network’s Russian-speaking audiences in Belarus.

RFE/RL also said it has seen audience interest that “demonstrates the appetite within Russia and Belarus for a credible, uncensored alternative to Kremlin media about the full scope of the conflict.”

It said that from February 24 to March 16, the number of views of RFE/RL videos on YouTube from Russia tripled to nearly 238 million, while the number of visits, page views and unique visitors to its three websites from Russia rose by 34 to 53 percent. The organization said interest has also soared from viewers and website visitors from Belarus.