US Department of State terms Russia's decision to ban RFE/RL as 'selective targeting'

US Department of State terms Russia's decision to ban RFE/RL as 'selective targeting' / RFE/RL

US funded news outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has been fined around $1,600 for not complying with Russian foreign agent laws.

RFE/RL along with Voice of America (VOA) were designated as foreign agents under the law signed last year by Russian president Vladmir Putin which allowed Russia's Justice Ministry to brand media outlets that receive foreign funding as "foreign agents."

However, RFE/RL and VOA are the only two organisations to be termed as "foreign agents".

RFE/RL president Thomas Kent said the prosecution of RFE/RL was a “sharp new escalation in a series of Russian actions aimed at hamstringing the work of the company and at casting public suspicion on its Russian staff.”

US Department of State has termed the decision of Russian government as selective targeting and 'eroding press freedom’ in Russia.

In a statement it wrote: "The Russian government continues to stifle press freedom and media independence. We condemn the selective targeting of RFE/RL and 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 could provide the Russian government a new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work.

"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."

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