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Radio Liberty fined $730 thousand as “foreign agent”

11.03.2021, 13:03
Photo credit: Stanislav Yurchenko, /Radio Liberty
Photo credit: Stanislav Yurchenko, /Radio Liberty

In Russia, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and the director general of its Russian service, Andrei Shary, were fined 53.9 million rubles (approximately $ 730,000) for failing to label the stories as a foreign agent’s ones, as Ukrinform reported.

A total of 252 pieces were received by the court, 126 protocols against each over Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty LLC and the General Director Andrey Shary. Of these, 196 materials have been considered so far. The article on violation of the order of activity of a media agent (part 1 of Article 19.34.1 of the Administrative Code) entails fines in the amount of 50 thousand rubles (around $678) for officials and in the amount of 500 thousand (around $6780) for legal entities. So, as of March 10, Andrey Shary was fined 4 million 900 thousand rubles (around $66 thousand), Radio Svoboda was 49 million rubles (around $664 thousand).

Also, 56 protocols are still pending in court. The total amount of fines of the organization and its CEO could reach 69.3 million rubles (approximately $ 940 thousand), if the court does not receive any new materials.

"The fines are a state-sponsored campaign of coercion and intimidation, targeting the media corporation whose editorial independence is protected by law," said Kyrylo Sukhotsky, RFE / RL Regional Director for Europe and TV Project Development.

At the same time, The New York Times daily reported that Radio Liberty could close the Russian newsroom if the authorities continued to put pressure on the newsroom by means of the law on foreign agents.

As it was reported, on January 27, a court in Moscow (Russia) fined Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty LLC and its CEO a total of 1,100,000 rubles (over ($14,500).

On January 12, Roskomnadzor submitted a total of eight protocols that target four of RFE/RL's Russian-language projects -- its main service for Russia, Radio Liberty; the Current Time TV and digital network; and Siberia.Reality and Idel.Reality, two regional sites delivering local news and information to audiences in Siberia and the Volga-Urals.

Among other things, the law requires certain news organizations that receive foreign funding to label content within Russia as being produced by a "foreign agent."

The law also puts RFE/RL journalists at risk for criminal prosecution.

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