In one more example of escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russia has cut off all programming by the Voice of America, a move which the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the organization that oversees VOA, has strongly condemned.
The decision was delivered in a curt, one-sentence letter from Dmitry Kiselyov, who heads the Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) Information Agency, responding from the BBG’s request to renew its long-standing contract to broadcast in Russia.
“We are not going to cooperate,” the letter read.
This means that the last VOA programming, which includes news and English-language lessons–has stopped airing on local Moscow frequency 810 AM.
“Moscow has chosen to do the wrong thing and restrict free speech,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “This is a fundamental value shared by many countries around the world.”
Shell pointed out that Russian programming, including Russia Today television, continues to air in the United States.
“We urge Mr. Kiselev and other Russian authorities to open Russian airwaves to more of our programs and those of other international broadcasters,” Shell added. “We’re asking for an even playing field.”
According to RT, Kiselyov says his decision doesn’t have “anything to do with the freedom of speech” but that neither the VOA nor Radio Svoboda (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian service) “have nothing original to say.”
“They sound like they are broadcasting from another world, at least from a world that doesn’t exist anymore” Kiselyov said. “I regard these radio stations as mere spam on our frequencies.”
Kiselyov’s letter to the BBG was dated March 21–which, coincidentally, was the same day that the EU froze his assets and banned his travel. The EU called him a “central figure of the government propaganda supporting the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine,” according to a list published today in Brussels.
This is the same gentleman who, on his recent television show, boasted that Russia has the capability to turn the US into “radioactive ashes.”