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Radio Free Europe banned in Russia

| 2024-02-23 < 1 min read

Radio Free Europe banned in Russia

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The Russian Justice Ministry on Tuesday, 20 February, named Radio Free Europe (RFE) as an “undesirable” organisation, effectively banning the US Congress-funded broadcaster from operating in Russia.

Other media organisations pronounced as “undesirable” by Russia in recent years include Meduza, Novaya Gazeta Europe and Bellingcat. Anyone working for these organisations now faces up to six years in prison. 

Relaunching Cold War services

RFE was founded as an anti-communist propaganda source in 1949. During the Cold War, it broadcast to Soviet satellite states, including the Baltic states. The KGB regularly jammed its signals. Its European operations were reduced after the end of the Cold War. 

In 2018, RFE announced it would relaunch its news services to Bulgaria and Romania amid growing concern about a reversal in democratic gains and attacks on the rule of law and the judiciary. The Romanian and Bulgarian news services re-launched in January, 2019. The Hungarian service was also relaunched in 2020.

RFE chief slams Kremlin

“The Russian government views this type of truthful reporting as an existential threat,” RFE President Stephen Capus said.

The Russian Justice Ministry named RFE as a “foreign agent” along with Voice of America, in 2017, authorities froze its Russian bank accounts, in May 2021 and a court declared it bankrupt in March 2023.