MUNICH, GERMANY, JAN. 16 -- U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe has increased its broadcast time to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia as the breakaway Soviet Baltic republics come under increasing pressure from Moscow, its acting director said today.
The Munich station, which challenged the communist monopoly on information in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, has returned to the role it played before glasnost, or openness, because Soviet-controlled media have limited the flow of news, said acting director Robert Gillette.
"We're reverting to our traditional role of the surrogate media, the free press that doesn't exist now," he added.
RFE, which had been broadcasting an hour of news daily to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, has more than doubled its reporting to the three republics. The Latvian-language service expanded to three hours a day earlier this month after Soviet troops seized the republic's main printing plant and cut back newspaper production.
"Latvians have had very few newspapers for the past two weeks," Gillette said. "Editors there now feed us key articles by telephone, and we broadcast them."
Publication of Lithuanian newspapers also has been cut back, and RFE plans to expand shortwave broadcasts in Lithuanian. All television service in the republic was under Soviet control after paratroops stormed the television center Sunday, killing 13 civilians. Local journalists still run the radio in nearby Kaunas.