Moscow, September 21 (Interfax) – Radio Liberty will stop its medium-wave broadcasts in Russia starting November 10 but will preserve its online broadcasts, Yelena Glushkova, the head of the Radio Free Europe office in Russia, told Interfax.
“We plan to stop our medium-wave broadcasts starting November 10, as this is stipulated by Russian law. There are more than 48% of foreigners among our founders, and therefore we have no right to continue broadcasts in this range in Russia. Our lawyers recommended such a solution to us so as not to violate Russian law, and we always comply with the letter of the law,” she said.
Glushkova pointed out that the termination of MW broadcasts has no relation to the coming of new head of Radio Liberty’s Moscow office Maria (Masha) Gessen.
“This has no relation to Maria Gessen. We simply do not want to break the law. But we will certainly remain on the Internet and will continue broadcasting there,” she said.
A source from Radio Liberty had told Interfax earlier on Friday that employees of its Moscow office were being sacked in droves.
“Virtually everybody is getting sacked – they are calling them in alphabetical order and giving them a sack. True, they offer compensations depending on who is sacked,” the source said.
Radio Liberty management says in explaining its moves that the Russian law is being amended and the radio station will have no frequency on medium waves, and therefore its broadcasts will be available only online, he said.
“In reality, everything is being mopped up for Ms. Gessen, who has been appointed the new head of Radio Liberty’s Moscow office,” he said.
Gessen herself said on Facebook that she did not order the firing of the radio station’s Internet service.
Gessen said she had sent a letter to Radio Free Europe in May as a consultant, in which she “described the general situation in the Moscow office and gave a number of recommendations, noting that a decision on particular individuals would have to be made by a new director, whoever it is.”
“The RFE management answered to the effect that ‘many thanks’ and everything was certainly right, but waiting for a new director to come is a luxury that they could not afford and that the service should have been reformed yesterday,” Gessen said.
She insisted that all decisions on personnel this week were made not by her but by the previous management.
“By this moment (Gessen’s appointment as the director), the reform plan, including the roster, had been drawn up, and I was invited precisely to the position of the director of a reformed service, and this is the very job I accepted. I have no reasons to doubt that the decisions that were made are right: all that I know about the decision-making process makes me think that these decisions are correct. That they were not made by me is just a historical fact,” Gessen said.
It was reported earlier that Lyudmila Telen, the editor of Radio Liberty’s website, had announced the dismissal of the radio station’s Internet service on Facebook, saying that this was Gessen’s decision.