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Russia Continues Campaign to Silence Media, RFE/RL Says

The broadcaster now faces a total of $13.4 million in fines

While meetings take place between the United States, Russia and other organizations to discuss Russia’s aggressive posture along Ukraine’s borders, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty says Russia is continuing a campaign to silence independent media and drive RFE/RL out of the country.

“In concert with the threat posed by the 100,000 soldiers Russia has deployed along Ukraine’s borders,” said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly in a press release, “Russia’s bullying actions against independent journalism have also intensified. RFE/RL will continue to provide the Russian people with the news and information they need to hold their government accountable.”

RFE/RL said that on Dec. 3, four current and former RFE/RL journalists were named foreign agents, and on Dec. 30, Russia named two more RFE/RL journalists along with others as individual media foreign agents. The organization said this designation makes the journalists subject to onerous and invasive financial reporting requirements and forces them to add lengthy, legally mandated labels of their “foreign agent” status to all electronic communications or posted content.

These additions bring the number of individuals named to the Justice Ministry’s media “foreign agent” list to 75, and another 36 media organizations are also labeled as foreign agents.

RFE/RL said, due to its refusal to submit to the labeling provisions, Russia’s communications regulator has issued another series of violation protocols against RFE/RL, the eighth since the beginning of last year. RFE/RL now faces a total of some 1 billion rubles (US$13.4 million) in fines, which it continues to fight in Russian court. It has also filed suit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over the law.