Russian Federation to amend law to classify U.S. media 'foreign agents'

RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan

RT's registration as a foreign agent follows a months-long back-and-forth with the Justice Department over whether it was required by USA law to register as an agent of the Russian government.

Sergei Neverov, parliamentary head of the pro-Kremlin party United Russia, said "we'll not just draft proposals, but a commission will work out broader measures, which may include social media networks".

Simonyan said on RT's Russian-language website that "between such consequences and registration as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration". "Our lawyers say that if we don't register as a foreign agent, the director of our company in America could be arrested, and the accounts of the company could be seized".

Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of RT, said in a statement that she regarded the requirement as contrary to law and the company meant to challenge it in court.

Russia said last month it had dropped accusations against CNN International of violating Russian media law and that the US channel could continue broadcasting in Russia.

The move comes as Washington accuses RT and Sputnik news agency, both backed by Moscow, of spreading "fake news" and propaganda to interfer in domestic politics.

Last month, Russian officials sent letters to news organizations in Russia that are backed by the USA government, warning them of possible "restrictions".

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Volodin said Russian Federation could extend its own law on foreign agents to foreign media in response to Washington's "hostile" actions. "So, the law should provide that media, recognized by foreign agents, indicate the relevant information on these pages", Tolstoy said.

The Duma is obliged to give its laws two preliminary approvals before passing them, which Volodin said could happen next week.

However, Russia has issued threats against Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America, which both are recipients of USA government funding.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said earlier this year that it would focus on countering "aggressive Russian pressure and disinformation" by providing "factual information and alternatives" to Russian speakers.

The broadcaster, RT, reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice has demanded the registration be done by Monday.

"The Russian side has repeatedly warned that any measures limiting activity of the Russian mass media in the United States will inevitably trigger an immediate symmetrical response, as provided for in the Russian legislation", the Russian Embassy in the U.S. Groups on the list are subject to tight scrutiny by officials and must place the words "foreign agent" on all their publications, a label that recalls Soviet-era denunciations of spies and fifth-columnists.

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