US broadcaster asks European court to halt Russian fines | News | DW | 16.04.2021
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US broadcaster asks European court to halt Russian fines

The Moscow-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is raising a case with the ECHR against Russian penalties that it says is part of a crackdown on press freedom.

Signboard on the headquarters building of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty international organization in Prague.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was founded in the 1950 and broadcasts in 23 countries

US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) said late Thursday it was petitioning the European Court of Human Rights to block Russia from enforcing penalties on the broadcaster. 

Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor has filed at least 390 violation cases against RFE/RL since October and is expected to announce more on Friday.

The broadcaster is asking the ECHR to order Russia to refrain from enforcing the fines until the court can make a full ruling on Roskomnadzor's moves.

"We are hopeful that the European Court of Human Rights will view these actions by the government of Russia for what they are: an attempt to suppress free speech and the human rights of the Russian people," RFE/RL president Jamie Fly said in a statement.

RFE/RL said the fines could reach millions of dollars. 

Why is Russia imposing fines on media outlets? 

Last year, Roskomnadzor ordered broadcasters and non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding to add a lengthy disclaimer to their content specifying that it was created by an outlet "performing the functions of a foreign agent."

The decision has been widely criticized as a tool to discredit critical reporting, with the term "foreign agent" carrying Soviet-era connotations in Russia. 

RFE/RL's said Russia’s moves violate the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised concerns over Russia's "efforts to close Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and silence this valued source of independent reporting."

The standoff comes as Washington's ties with Moscow are strained by several issues. On Thursday, the US expelled Russian officials and sanctioned Russian individuals and entities for election interference.

The US and the European Union have also slammed the Kremlin over the conflict in eastern Ukraine and for jailing Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny. 

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fb/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)