Netherlands backs independent Russian media, denounces “propaganda”

Newspaper printing in 1916 (Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons)Newspaper printing in 1916 (Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons)

The Dutch government is investing 1.3 million euros in independent Russian media. The government wants to give Russian-speaking people access to unbiased and propaganda-free news. They feel that the media in these areas is increasingly dominated by Russian state media and too often influenced by the Kremlin.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made this announcement on Thursday. "The Russian government is exerting an ever tighter control on journalists and media organizations", according to Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders. "With our support, we want to ensure that Russian-language media directs themselves, without interfering with what content they broadcast."

The 1.3 million euros investment will be made to the Free Press Unlimited, a non-governmental organization that works for more freedom of the press world wide. The organization will ensure that local independent media organization in the former Soviet republics can exchange their news with each other unhindered.

"By stimulating the independent press we want to improve the availability of independent news, so that the Russian-speaking public has options to choose from. That is directly in Dutch interest", Koenders said.

During the parliamentary budget debate on Thursday, Koenders pointed out that this is not aimed "against Russia, but for the independent media", the Volkskrant reports.  It was not discussed with Moscow to avoid further diplomatic damage and because "the work with NGOs does not require the explicit approval of governments."

"With the increased tensions between Russia and the West over the illegal annexation of the Crimea and the Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, the government considers it particularly important to retain contacts between the West and the Russian-speaking population of the former Soviet Union", Koenders said. "A wide range of independent media is of great importance to this."