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Gessen Resigns as RFE/RL Russian Service Director

Service to continue under senior editors in Prague, Moscow

Masha Gessen, director of the Russian-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), announced on Tuesday that she would resign in order to work on a new book. She has held the director position for seven months.

In a press release, Radio Free Europe President Kevin Klose said that Gessen “will continue to bring her insight, energy and activism to journalism — in the interest of civil society in Russia.”

Gessen’s term was fraught with controversy. Days before she started in the position a large portion of Radio Liberty was abruptly fired with many of them and critics blaming Gessen. According to critics, under Gessen’s leadership the service’s programming content changed with an emphasis on features and a de-emphasis of hard news and human rights coverage. BBG Watch was a constant critic as was the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting. See here for BBG’s reaction to the resignation. 

Gessen has been a regular contributor to The New York Times Latitude blog, and a lecturer on human rights, Gessen has written the political autobiography, “The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin,” and won a Media for Liberty Award for her April 2012 Vanity Fair piece, “The Wrath of Putin.”

According to Klose, the Russian Service will be coordinated by senior editors in Prague, the network’s operations center, and Moscow, where the service recently installed a news bureau.