PRAGUE Feb 7 U.S.-funded Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty launched a new 24-hour Russian-language
channel on Tuesday to offer Russian speakers living home and
abroad a new alternative to government-run media.
The channel, Current Time, is available on cable, satellite
and digital platforms and aimed at millions of Russian speakers
in Russia, the Baltics, Ukraine, the Caucasus, central Asia and
"We believe our objective and balanced channel will serve as
an alternative to disinformation and lies that sometimes we see
coming from Russian state-sponsored outlets," Kenan Aliyev,
executive editor of Current Time, told Reuters.
"We are not counterpropaganda at all. We are objective and
balanced, verified news. We are an open platform for anyone who
wants to engage in a civilised discussion."
The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to
a request for comment.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcasts news and other
programming in 26 languages to Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan,
Iran, and a range of other countries.
Current Time has about 100 editorial staff at RFE
headquarters in Prague and correspondents in the field, Aliyev
said, and will deliver news, debates and documentaries. The
network's name in Russian is "Nastoyashchee Vremya".
In Russia, which has narrowed the space for independent
media in the past years, RFE/RL Vice President and
Editor-in-Chief Nenad Pejic said digital platforms were the key
strategy to win new audience and overcome distribution
"The only platform we have is digital, and social networks,"
Pejic said, adding some viewers would also have access via
satellite. "Cable providers do not want to put us on."
RFE/RL said in a statement Current Time had 160 million
views on social networks last year under a trial operation.
Pejic said he saw no changes to the RFE/RL operations under
the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump who has
said he wanted to improve ties with Russian President Vladimir
"This company has existed for 60 years and we have a
firewall between us and the U.S. government," he said. "Nobody
in the U.S. government is allowed to tell us what to do."
Some officials in the State Department and the U.S.
intelligence community have said they were worried that Trump is
not wary enough of Putin, who considers RFE/RL's efforts "to
promote democratic values" an attempt to undermine his
Officials in Moscow say Russia has a free and independent
media. They deny using state media as a tool for political
influence. They say some Russian state media outlets provide a
healthy counterpoint to powerful Western media which, they
argue, often push an anti-Russian agenda.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alison Williams)