Russia is took another step towards complete censorship when Moscow shut down Voice of America. The US said Russia has double standards, but Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) claimed they just did not want to renew the contract.
Dmitry Kiselyov, head of Russia Today, told the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) they “are not going to cooperate anymore.” BBG chairman accused Russia Today of violating free speech.
“Moscow chose the wrong path and decided to limit freedom of expression,” he said adding “this is the fundamental value shared by many countries. BBG will continue to work for the Russian audience through online platforms and satellite transmissions.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and US Embassy in Russia echoed the sentiment.
“We call on them now to drop this obvious double standard, and allow the same access to information for their people that it insists other nations provide,” she said.
“We call on the Russian government to allow the same access to information for their people that it insists other nations provide,” the U.S. Embassy said.
Psaki also said the US will not shut down Russian outlets in America.
Kiselyov denies all the accusations.
Kiselyov denied that his decision has “anything to do with the freedom of speech” as Voice of America and the Voice of Svoboda “have nothing original to say.”
“They sound like they are broadcasting from another world, at least from a world that doesn’t exist anymore” he added. “I regard these radio stations as mere spam on our frequencies.”
Russia and the West have been battling since Moscow moved in on Crimea after Kyiv, Ukraine ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22. Moscow officially annexed the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine on March 21. Tensions continue to rise as Russia pushes the buttons of former Soviet states, including Estonia and Latvia.
Between February 22 and March 21, the Kremlin shut down media outlets against the regime. On March 12, Lenta.ru’s chief editor Galina Timchenko resigned, but employees insisted she was fired because she published an interview with the Right Sector Party leader. The Kremlin views the party as terrorists and demanded they not print the interview. The following day, many employees and editors resigned in protest. Kommersant reporter Anastasia Karimova resigned because of censorship issues. On March 14, Moscow shut down three news websites critical of the Kremlin and the blog of longtime opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Liz Wahl of Russia Today resigned on air, she claimed due to censorship and the network openly backing Putin’s actions in Crimea.
Russia’s parliament passed a law on February 1 that allow the Kremlin to shut down any website without a court order that incite hatred or call for mass protests without permission.