New Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty transmitter to be launched in Lithuania

Microphone in a radio studio

A new transmitter will be launched in Lithuania this week for broadcasting the Russian and Belarusian-language services of the US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) aimed at countering Russian propaganda.

It will replace a 52-year-old transmitter in Sitkūnai, close to Kaunas, that has been transmitting programs for listeners in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova at a lower quality.

The medium wave (AM) transmitter was manufactured some five years ago and was used by the US Defense Department in Western Germany to broadcast a radio program for American troops stationed abroad.

The transmitting power of the new device is set at 75 kilowatts, the same as that of the old one, but it can be increased up to 300 kilowatts if needed, Rimantas Pleikys, the owner of Radio Baltic Waves International, said.

"If Russia decided to try and disrupt or jam this program or the situation in Russia worsened dramatically, we would be able to turn this transmitter on at full capacity," he said.

According to Pleikys, the new transmitter will not expand RFE/RL foreign audiences, but it will greatly improve the quality of retransmission.

RFE/RL programs rebroadcast from Lithuania can potentially reach about 100 million people in the European part of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.

Prague-based RFE/RL is currently broadcast 10 hours a day.

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