When Putin preached radio station on ‘Freedom of Speech’

January 19th, 2012 - 3:05 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Wednesday criticised a liberal radio station for serving US foreign policy interests and going overboard with the notion of freedom of speech.

At a meeting with Russian media directors in his out-of-town residence, Putin took issue with the way Ekho Moskvy, which provides generous air time to opposition figures, handled the US plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe.

He cited a live show he had “accidentally” tuned into, featuring a panel discussion with some of the participants suggesting it did not matter how far away from the Russian borders the US missile interceptors would be located.

Putin dismissed such claims as “utter nonsense”.

“If they are closer [to Russian borders] they will be closer to our ground based missiles and will be able to shoot them down, but if they are further away they will not reach our missiles and shoot them down,” said the prime minister while addressing editor in chief Alexei Venediktov.

“How come that doesn’t matter? It does matter. It’s a fundamental issue.”

Putin said he also had a problem with the idea that the US was proposing missile defense cooperation to Russia.

“It’s the other way around. We’re proposing [cooperation] and they’re refusing,” he said.

He slammed the show as “serving the foreign policy interests of one state with regard to another, Russia.”

Putin recalled that Ekho Moskvy is owned by a state company (Gazprom) and funded by the Russian taxpayer, adding that such things would be impossible in the US.

“You’re talking about freedom of speech. Where is it if not here?” he asked rhetorically.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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