Russia sent bailiffs to the Moscow bureau of US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Friday over unpaid fines.
RFE/RL said the move was an escalation in the Russian government’s campaign to push them out of the country.
“RFE/RL will continue to fight these desperate attempts by the Kremlin to censor uncomfortable truths,” said RFE/RL President Jamie Fly in a statement.
US State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters Washington was “deeply troubled” at the move. It represented Russia’s “latest attempt to suppress independent media and deny the Russian people access to objective news,” she said.
Why did the US broadcaster face fines?
RFE/RL was designated as a “foreign agent” in Russia in 2017, a claim that the news outlet denies. Groups identified as foreign agents in Russia must disclose their sources of funding and media outlets under this tag must publish a disclaimer saying their publications are “fulfilling the function of a foreign agent.” If they refuse, they face fines.
Groups that are considered foreign agents face difficulties in funding and a stigma that can make it difficult to continue their work.
Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor filed 520 violation cases against RFE/RL, which could entail fines up to $2.4 million (€1.98 million).