Voice of America (VOA) said Russian officials threatened to block their Russian-language website in the country unless it halts coverage of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a statement on Wednesday, the American state-owned broadcaster said Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor claimed VOA’s Russian site, www.golosameriki.com“Contains false messages about terrorist attacks or other kind (sic) of information of public concern.”
Roskomnadzor also demanded that VOA remove a news story published about the second day of the Russian invasion, which the news service called “factual” reporting.
“Any attempts to interfere with the free flow of news and information are deeply troubling. We find this order to be in direct opposition to the values of all democratic societies, ”acting VOA Director Yolanda López said in a statement.
“The Russian people deserve unfettered access to a free press and, therefore, we can not comply with the Roskomnadzor’s request,” López added.
VOA also noted that Russian regulators have shut down two Russian news organizations and a VOA-Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty joint production’s Currenttime.tv, according to the statement.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began a week ago, and the first Ukrainian city reportedly fell on Wednesday. Russian troops also struck a main television tower in Kyiv on Tuesday.
The US and allies have imposed an escalating series of sanctions that are strangling Russia’s economy.
The United Nations refugee agency said more than one million Ukrainian citizens have fled the country since the invasion began.