(November 11, 2014 Screen capture from Sputnik news agency and radio)
As some attentive SWLing Post readers have noted, the Voice of Russia has found a new identity–Sputnik News Agency and Radio–with a new website/news portal to match. Here’s the message the (former) Voice of Russia posted on their website today:
“Dear readers, we are excited to announce that the Voice of Russia is changing its name and moving over to a new website. We will now be known as Sputnik news agency and radio. You can find all the latest stories from our London bureau here: http://uk.sputniknews.com. Please update your bookmarks and stay with us!”
I thought, perhaps, these were schedules posted prior to VOR leaving the air, but Stephen notes that VOR has posted and made constant changes to their B14 schedules as well. Stephen follows schedules closely as he has a websiteand app devoted to shortwave radio schedules.
This does seem like a lot of effort if VOR has no intention of returning to the shortwaves.
Stephen also points to this article which mentions that Russia may be bringing back shortwave and a new body might be in charge of operations.
I suspect if VOR is returning to shortwave, it is in reaction to the recent changes at the Voice of America/Radio Liberty and the promise that HR4490 might increase a pro-US presence on the air.
In the end, we might not know until VOR actually resumes shortwave broadcasts.
Facing legal problems, the Russian government-funded radio network — the Voice of Russia — has fired its Washington bureau staff and closed the office.
The shutdown happened Monday, amid allegations of tax fraud and claims of racial discrimination at the network.
Alexei Iazlovsky, the head of the VOR’s U.S. operations, pleaded guilty last year to tax fraud and will be sentenced later this year.
VOR’s employment practices also have attracted attention from the IRS and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The IRS is investigating whether VOR used contractors alongside full-time, salaried employees to skirt payroll taxes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took an interest in VOR after several former staffers claimed they were fired because of their race.
The employees have filed a lawsuit against International TV Services, VOR’s contract manager in the United States.
Some suspect Voice of Russia will quickly return to the U.S. through a different management company without the legal troubles.
Earlier this year, the Russians stopped Voice of America broadcasting in Moscow on AM radio.
UPDATE: I seriously question this VOR twitter account’s authenticity. @VORMoscow looks to be very new, starting on March 19, 2014–the same day VOR announced an end to its shortwave service–obviously not an official VOR account. Either this is a disgruntled VOR staffer posing as VOR English, or (most likely) a VOR listener. By 5:30 UTC on March 22, 2014 @VORMoscow was removed from Twitter:
Two days ago we learn that the Voice of Russia plans to end all shortwave and medium wave broadcasts as of April 1, 2014.
Yesterday, SWLing Post reader Juan Kulichevsky, noticed this tweet from the new Twitter account @VORMoscow:
Then, about ten hours ago, I notice this tweet among other VOR news items from @VORMoscow:
By 5:30 UTC on March 22, 2014, @VORMoscow posted this final tweet before the account was removed from Twitter:
It appears that after all of the rumors from last year, and after the cuts to shortwave broadcasts earlier this year, the Voice of Russia has decided to stop broadcasting on shortwave entirely.
This morning, Alokesh Gupta shared the following message from Elena Osipova at the Voice of Russia World Service Letters Department:
“This is just a short message to thank you for your letter and let you know that the Voice of Russia is closing shortwave broadcasts as of April 1st. Our programs will be available online at http://voiceofrussia.com/play/
We hope you will stay with the Voice of Russia and hope to hear from you soon again.”
2nd Update: Shortly after publishing this original post, SWLing Post reader Stephen Cooper, noticed a VOR twitter account announcing the final date as April 30, 2014–I now believe this account to be fake:
Update 2 (10:00 UTC on March 21, 2014): I just received the following message from Elena Osipova at the Voice of Russia World Service Letters Department:
Dear Mr Witherspoon,
This is to thank you for your message and confirm the information about the upcoming cancellation of the Voice of Russia’s short- and medium wave transmissions as of April 1, 2014.
Voice of Russia
I remember when the Voice of Russia and Radio Moscow absolutely dominated the shortwaves, especially in my early years as a radio listener. Times have changed for this broadcaster who has been the mouthpiece for Russia and the Soviet Union.
On a side note, if you have the ability to record the Voice of Russia in its final days on the air, please consider submitting and sharing your recordings on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.Please contact me if you have any questions.
The BBC reports that Russia has “quietly switched off nearly all of its long-wave transmitters, ending almost nine decades of broadcasting – as cost finally catches up on the medium.” Read the full story on the BBC News.
Not a huge surprise as many countries are pulling the plug on longwave, despite the medium’s large local broadcasting footprint. It does make one wonder if VOR shortwave could also be pulled with little fanfare or warning.
I can tell you that for those of us in North America, VOR is now a much harder catch on shortwave–a very strange shift from the ubiquity of the broadcaster’s signal in past decades.
But if you want to hear frank, public comments about how these changes are affecting the staff of VOR, just bookmark and listen to From Moscow With Love. Hosts Vasily and Natasha happily march to their own beat and comment openly to listener inquiries.
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