Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States propaganda outlet that focuses on Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus and the Middle East. It was founded in 1949 by Allen Dulles, prominent CIA director.

RFE/RL is legally a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation supervised by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, a government agency overseeing all U.S. federal government international broadcasting services.

History[edit | edit source]

Radio Free Europe[edit | edit source]

Radio Free Europe was created and grew in its early years through the efforts of the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), an anti-communist CIA front organization that was formed by Allen Dulles in New York City in 1949. The committee was composed of an "A list" of powerful U.S. citizens including former ambassador Joseph Grew; Reader's Digest owner DeWitt Wallace; former diplomat and the co-founder of Public Opinion Quarterly Dewitt Clinton Poole; and prominent New York investment banker Frank Altschul. The European director of information, based in Munich, was Harry G. Sperling.

The United States funded a long list of projects to counter the Communist appeal among intellectuals in Europe and the developing world. RFE was developed out of a belief that the Cold War would eventually be fought by political rather than military means. American policymakers such as George Kennan and John Foster Dulles acknowledged that the Cold War was essentially a war of ideas. The implementation of surrogate radio stations was a key part of the greater psychological war effort.

Radio Liberty[edit | edit source]

Whereas Radio Free Europe targeted smaller Soviet allies, Radio Liberty targeted the Soviet Union itself. Radio Liberty was formed by American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (Amcomlib) in 1951. Originally named Radio Liberation, the station was renamed in 1959 after a policy statement emphasizing "liberalization" rather than "liberation".

Cold War Years[edit | edit source]

RFE was instrumental in destabilizing the socialist governments of the Eastern Bloc using propaganda to support the various colour revolutions which were occurring in those countries.

Officially, the CIA stopped funding Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in 1972. In 1974 they came under the control of an organization called the Board for International Broadcasting, which is funded by the US congress. In 1976, the two radio stations merged to form Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and added the three Baltic language services to their repertoire.

1980s: Glasnost and the Iron Curtain's fall[edit | edit source]

After 1991[edit | edit source]

In 1995, RFE/RL moved its headquarters from Munich to Prague, to the building of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly, which had been unoccupied since the 1992 dissolution of Czechoslovakia. The Clinton Administration reduced funding significantly and placed the service under the United States Information Agency's oversight.

2010s to present[edit | edit source]

As the unipolarity and ideological hegemony of the United States fades compared to the rising powers of Russia and China, the US has doubled down on its propaganda efforts.

On October 14, 2014, RFE/RL and Voice of America (VOA) launched a new Russian-language TV news program, Current Time, in response to the successes of Russian-based news outlets which were offering a counter-hegemonic narrative.

Around 2017, Voice of America and RFE/RL launched Polygraph.info, and the Russian-language factograph.info, as fact-checking sites.

In a response to the United States Department of Justice requesting RT to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Russia's Justice Ministry also requested RFE/RL and Voice of America (VOA) to register as foreign agent under the law "ФЗ N 121-ФЗ / 20.07.2012" in December 2017.

See also[edit | edit source]