US-funded broadcaster asks European court to block Russian fines
Category: World NewsVia: hallux • 2 months ago • 1 comments
By: SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Opening ceremonies: The Tit for Tat Games.
The Moscow bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has called on Europe’s top human rights court to order Russian authorities against enforcing fines that could cost the broadcaster millions of dollars.
The multimedia news outlet, which is funded by Washington, has been heavily fined this year for what Russia says is a repeated failure to label itself as a media outlet “performing the functions of a foreign agent”.
RFE/RL says Russian authorities have the power to place it into insolvency or block access to its media sites if the fines are unpaid – or do both.
Andrey Shary, its general director, faces the prospect of a prison sentence of up to two years and personal bankruptcy, the network fears.
“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.
Fly added that Moscow’s actions set a “dangerous precedent at a time when independent media are under assault around the globe”.
The standoff has added to friction in Washington’s ties with Moscow that are already at post-Cold War lows, under pressure from several issues including Ukraine, Syria, sanctions and the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.
However, any favourable ruling by the ECHR would likely be largely symbolic as Russia passed a law last year giving its national legislation precedence over international treaties and rulings in cases when they conflict with its constitution.
Since October, Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has filed 390 violation cases against RFE/RL and is expected to announce more on Friday.
The watchdog has the power to label foreign-funded NGOs, media or individuals it deems are engaged in political activity as “foreign agents”.
Roskomnadzor has ordered RFE/RL to place a precautionary statement on its material which reads: “This report (material) was created and (or) disseminated by a foreign mass medium performing the functions of a foreign agent and (or) a Russian legal entity performing the functions of a foreign agent.”