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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 13, 2006 / 17 Tamuz, 5766

Putin silences the airwaves

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In early 1990 I visited Eastern Europe for the first time, traveling in Hungary, Romania, and what was then Czechoslovakia just a few months after the revolutions that had freed them from Communist dictatorship.


One indelible lesson from that trip was the remarkable role that had been played by the US government's broadcast services — Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty — in providing a lifeline to people trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Several times in private homes I was shown the shortwave radio on which a family had for years picked up the American-produced programs that were their only reliable source for news and analysis, especially about events in their own country.


Naturally the Communist thugs who ruled in Budapest, Bucharest, and Prague — and the thugs in Moscow who ruled over them — hated these American voices of freedom. They often deployed high-powered jammers to block the broadcasts, generating the obnoxious noise known as "KGB jazz." That wasn't all they did: In 1981, terrorists blew up the headquarters of Radio Free Europe in Munich.


"One of the most fervent wishes of the KGB," Anatoly Kuznetsov, a Soviet author who defected to the West in 1969, remarked years ago, "is to destroy Radio Liberty." Today, the KGB no longer exists. But at least one former KGB agent — Russian President Vladimir Putin — is apparently still pursuing the old vendetta.


The Washington Post reported last week that, under pressure from Moscow, scores of radio stations have stopped airing the Russian-language news programs produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. With hundreds of journalists across the country, and a combined network of more than 70 affiliates airing their stories and commentary, the US-sponsored broadcast services have been among the largest and most independent news organizations in Russia. "In a country where the news media increasingly avoid controversial subjects," the Post noted, "millions of Russians had made the broadcasts a listening staple."


But over the past year, the number of stations carrying their broadcasts has collapsed, sinking from more than 70 to just nine. Beginning last September, regulators from the Ministry of Culture descended on the stations, warning them that they were likely to lose their broadcast licenses if they continued airing material from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Nearly all of them capitulated. The few stations still carrying their shows are mostly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where their influence is minimal. But in the far-flung regions beyond Russia's two biggest cities, where they were an essential source of information, they are no longer being heard.


So it goes in Putin's Russia, where the stifling of independent media voices is now routine. Since coming to power in 1999, Putin has seized control of the country's major TV channels, all of which are now under the thumb of the government or its allies. Local media outlets rarely challenge the regional governors, most of whom are Kremlin loyalists — especially since Putin abolished the popular election of regional officials two years ago.


A bill now before the Russian Parliament would broaden the crime of "extremism" to include media criticism of public officials. If convicted, journalists could be imprisoned for three years and their publications closed down. Yet crimes already on the books are not always prosecuted zealously: Since Putin became president, 12 journalists have been murdered in contract-style killings, including American Paul Klebnikov, the 41-year-old editor of Forbes Russia. To date, none of the killers has been brought to justice.


The rollback of press freedoms is of a piece with the Kremlin's deepening authoritarianism. Nearly all serious opposition to Putin has been broken or marginalized. Prominent businessmen unwise enough to oppose him have been prosecuted and imprisoned, or forced to flee the country. Neighboring countries have been outrageously bullied. Putin has even gone out of his way to defend Soviet-era crimes like the occupation of the Baltic states in 1941.


"Just as in the old days," Garry Kasparov, the chess champion and Russian democracy activist, wrote in a New York Times column on Monday, "Moscow has become an ally for troublemakers and anti-democratic rulers around the world. Nuclear aid to Iran, missile technology to North Korea, military aircraft to Sudan, Myanmar and Venezuela, and a budding friendship with Hamas: These are the West's rewards for keeping its mouth shut about human rights in Russia."


The West ought to find its voice, and fast — particularly the American president who keeps saying that the promotion of freedom is the cornerstone of his foreign policy. The G-8 summit that convenes in St. Petersburg this weekend is supposed to be a gathering of democratic allies, but Russia is no longer a democracy, and it doesn't act like an ally. Putin is counting on the West not to embarrass him by making a fuss about his creeping dictatorship. As a rule, guests are not supposed to scold their hosts. This is one time when that rule should be broken.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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