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U.S. decries Russia’s decree targeting VOA, others


The U.S. says it is ”deeply concerned’’ by a recent draft decree published by Russian authorities targeting media entities funded by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) in Russia.

In a statement on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Michael Pompeo, said the decree would ”impose new burdensome requirements that will further inhibit RFE/RL’s and VOA’s ability to operate within Russia’’.

USAGM is an independent agency of the U.S Government, which operated various state-run media outlets, including the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

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When operational, the decree would require foreign media outlets to create a legal entity within Russia to carry out any financial transactions among other measures.

Pompeo said: ”For more than 70 years, VOA and RFE/RL have been vital sources of independent news and information for the people of Russia.

“This decree will impose new burdensome requirements that will further inhibit RFE/RL’s and VOA’s ability to operate within Russia, compounding the significant and undue restrictions these outlets already face.

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“We remain troubled by the ongoing crackdown on the independent press in Russia and call on the country to uphold its international obligations and OSCE commitments to freedom of expression.

“We urge the Russian government to reconsider these actions, which will further damage the bilateral relationship.’’

Russia’s decision came after the appointment of Michael Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker with ties to Steve Bannon, a Trump’s loyalist, as the Chief Executive Officer of USAGM.

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One of Pack’s first decisions was the sacking of heads of RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network, a move that drew criticisms.

USAGM was established after World War II to bring US radio broadcasts to an international audience, runs five different networks that bring news to 350 million people in 100 countries and 61 languages.