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Russia Must Protect Press Freedom

The Russian government continues to stifle press freedom and media independence.

The U.S., said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, “condemn(s) the selective targeting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, or(RFE/RL), and Voice of America, or (VOA), under Russia's law on ‘foreign agent' media outlets.”

RFE/RL and VOA remain the only media outlets designated under this law, which exacerbates long-standing restrictions on their distribution in Russia. Moreover, on July 3 the State Duma took another step toward approving legislation that would extend the “foreign agent” designation from media outlets to individual persons taking part in the creation of materials for media outlets. This bill, warned Ms. Nauert, “could provide the Russian government a new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work.”

John Lansing, the CEO and Director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, expressed grave concern over the attack on RFE/RL and VOA.

The new Russian law, he said, “is clearly a political attack on an influential U.S. institution and an attempt to discredit the accurate, reliable news we provide to Russian audiences every day.”

Moreover, he said, this law “wrongfully stigmatizes our journalists and puts them at risk.”

The United States again calls on the Russian government to uphold its commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to respect the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, in Russia.

The “targeted campaign against RFE/RL and VOA, is worrying and unacceptable,” declared Mr. Lansing, “but it will not deter us from our mission to inform and engage people — in Russia and around the world — in support of freedom and democracy.”

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