Elez Biberaj is the director of the Voice of America's Eurasia division, meaning he oversees the journalists working to accurately report the news and counter state-sponsored propaganda in places like Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe. His team's work is challenged by governments that are hostile to independent journalism.
"And what we have right now is that we have a Russia that is a fully consolidated Russian state," Biberaj told Cincinnati Edition. "All power is concentrated in the hands of the president; the judiciary and the legislative branches are obedient to the executive. The media is under almost total control, especially television stations."
Biberaj called a recently adopted law further restricting free speech and free access of internet content "very concerning."
"We will have to see to what extent, in fact, that the authorities will actually implement that law," he said. "Are they likely to go all the way to the extreme like China does? It remains to be seen.
"I personally would like to think that the Russians are maturing politically, that they are not likely to willingly accept such restrictions, but time will tell."
Biberaj was in town to speak at the Voice of America Museum about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He joined Cincinnati Edition to talk about being a witness to the Cold War as a journalist, and what his work is like now for the legacy media organization.
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