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BBC Russian Service

5th November 2008

Dear all,
we have received this important letter from a member. Many of the
signaturies have spoken at our Society.
With best wishes

The BBC World Service has announced internally that its Russian service
broadcasts are being cut by 22 hours a week and that it will now drop all
analytical and cultural programmes. A previous unfortunate decision was to
reduce short wave broadcasting, relying on the Russians themselves to
relay FM and Medium Wave programmes.  This has made the Russian service
largely dependent on the Russian authorities – whose co-operation, of
course, can no longer be counted on. This decision seems to have been
taken for no good reason except that short wave is considered
At a time when in Russia misunderstanding and mistrust of Britain has
reached a height unprecedented since the end of the USSR this deliberate
reduction in the role of the Russian service seems a perverse, even
demented concession to those in Russia who have been doing their best to
curtail the activities of all British cultural institutions (the BBC and
the British Council in particular). The Russian service had a fine record
of producing long format features  of unique depth and diversity of
opinion on matters of serious political and cultural concern.  The BBC
World Service should be held to account by the press for its inexplicable
actions – and everyone who realises that BBC World Service broadcasts are
the best ambassadors we have for this country should make their views
Yours sincerely,
Antony Beevor,
Bill Bowring (Professor of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London;
adviser on Human Rights and Law Reform in Russia for DfID, 1997-2003)
Felicity Cave
David & Helen Constantine (editors of ‘Modern Poetry in Translation’)
Elena Cook (Russian-English interpreter and translator)
Helen Dunmore (FRSL)
Orlando Figes (Professor of History, Birkbeck College, Univ. of London)
Jonathan Heawood (Director English PEN)
Mrs Jane Henderson ( Senior Lecturer in the Laws of Eastern Europe, King's
College London School of Law.)
Geoffrey Hosking (Emeritus Professor of Russian History, University
College London)
Doris Lessing
Dominic Lieven
Christophe MacLehose (Publisher)
Richard McKane (translator from Russian)
Professor Arnold and Doctor Svetlana McMillin (UCL)
Catherine Merridale (Professor of History, Queen Mary University of
Lucy Popescu ( Director of English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee)
Donald Rayfield (Emeritus Professor of Russian and Georgian, Queen Mary,
University of London)
Dr Arch Tait (translator from Russian)

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