Russia's leading independent radio station is accused of facilitating Western political meddling
The Russian television network Rossiya-24 aired a segment this week accusing the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy of working with unspecified “Western nonprofits.”
According to the channel’s anchor, “Western nonprofits are conducting propaganda in Russia, organizing the collection of information, and trying to cultivate a pro-Western position” ahead of Russia’s 2018 presidential election.
The news segment also claimed that Ekho Moskvyreceived more than 3 million rubles ($52,000) from its “foreign counterparts” in 2016, listing various large Western media outlets, supposedly for supplying regular comments from liberal experts. Rossiya-24 called this “trading in information weapons.”
According to the report, part of Ekho Moskvy’s supposed collaboration with the Western media included Orenburg branch chief editor Maxim Kurnikov working with the U.S.-government-funded independent outlet Radio Svoboda, and the participation of several Ekho Moskvy guests and staff on different Western media programs and at some forums.
The report was published on Rossiya-24’s YouTube channel with the following description: “The closer Russia’s presidential election gets, the more people want to influence the vote. The radio station Ekho Moskvygot caught up in cooperation with Western nonprofits. How much are they paying to destabilize Russian society?”
Alexander Plushev, one of the Ekho Moskvy journalists named in the broadcast, has accused pro-Kremlin pundit and TV and radio host Vladimir Solovyov of instigating the accusations.
In July, Pervyi Kanal, another state-owned Russian television network, aired a report alleging that Ekho Moskvy receives funding from the Broadcasting Board of Governors — the independent U.S. government agency that supervises and allocates money to outlets like the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Gazprom-Media, which owns Ekho Moskvy, flatly denied the allegations.
Earlier in the year, Russia’s federal media regulator ordered Ekho Moskvyto reject all foreign funding by February 15. In April, the radio station announced that it was now in full compliance with Russian media restrictions on funding from abroad.