U.S. State Department calls out Russia on “eroding press freedoms”

Russian opposition activists rally in support of freedom of press in central Moscow, on April 13, 2014. 

Anatoly Tanin / AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. State Department on Friday condemned the Russian government for its efforts to “stifle press freedom and media independence.” The State Department statement comes one day after a Russian court fined the U.S. government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) for violating its “foreign agent” law.

The State Deparment called out the Russian government’s “selective targeting” of RFE/RL and Voice of America, which is also funded by the U.S. government. Russia designated both RFE/RL and VOA and seven other outlets affiliated with them as “foreign agents” in December, a move that was seen as retailation for the U.S. forcing the Kremlin-sponsored RT to register as a foreign agent.

The State Deparment accused a bill proposed by Russia’s legislature on July 3 of being a “new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work.” The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the bill, which calls on individual journalists and bloggers to register as foreign agents.

RFE/RL was fined 100,000 roubles, or $1,585, for not complying with the “foreign agent” law. While it’s not a significant amount for a company of their size, RFE/RL President Thomas Kent told Reuters they believe it represents a “significant escalation in a campaign targeting our operations in Russia.” 

The State Departmetn statement comes ahead of President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s scheduled meeting on July 16 in Finland.

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Categories: International News, US & World News

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