WASHINGTON – On March 18, RFE/RL’s Moscow bureau administrator was approached at her home by two unknown men identifying themselves as journalists with Russia’s NTV channel and seeking personal information.
The men, one of whom had a video camera and sought to film the premises, questioned her repeatedly about her income and properties they said she owned in and around Moscow. One of the men said he had received such information from former employees of the Russian Service. The administrator refused to answer the questions.
Nenad Pejic, RFE/RL editor in chief, called the incident “a disgusting example of intimidation,” and said that “authorities in Russia appear to be preparing a case against us because of our journalism.”
NTV is a Kremlin-controlled channel known for conducting defamation campaigns against independent journalists, opposition journalists and civil-society activists in Russia.
The incident comes one week after an edition of the popular television program “News of the Week with Dmitry Kiselyev,” the Kremlin’s lead propagandist, portrayed RFE/RL journalists as spies conspiring against Russia. During the show, Mr. Kiselyev announced that a documentary about U.S. international broadcasting would be forthcoming.
RFE/RL’s Russian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, operates out of a Moscow bureau and RFE/RL’s headquarters in Prague.
In 2015, Radio Svoboda was the second most-cited radio station in Russian social media, according to the Medialogia agency, right behind Ekho Moskvy.
Last year, 430 million people visited RFE/RL websites, where they viewed nearly 1 billion pages of original RFE/RL content. Within that audience, RFE/RL’s Russian-language sites provided 266 million pages of content to almost 170 million visitors. RFE/RL Russian-language Facebook pages registered almost 23 million engaged users last year.
RFE/RL is a private, independent international news organization whose programs – radio, Internet, television, and mobile – reach influential audiences in 23 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Radio Svoboda is a multi-platform alternative to state-run media, providing audiences in and around the Russian Federation with timely and balanced news, analysis and opinion.