Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Russian Federation crafting new law forcing United States media to register as 'foreign agents'

RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan
Dexter Carr | 11 November, 2017, 01:00

Russian lawmakers say they are planning a quick approval of legal amendments that would allow a quid pro quo response to a US demand to the Russian government-funded broadcaster RT to register as a foreign agent.

RT's chief editor, Margarita Simonyan, said the outlet would register by the deadline but planned to challenge the decision in a US court.

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

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".

The Russian media outlets would have to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires persons acting in "political or quasi-political capacity" for foreign interests to disclose information, funding and activities. The restrictions were criticized by the US and the European Union.

"Every media now has its own pages in social networks, which also publish their news, articles and videos".

Twitter has already banned advertising from RT and Sputnik, another Russian news outlet.

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RT began operations in 2005 under the brand Russia Today, claiming to present the Russian view on global news and to cover stories ignored by mainstream Western news media.

The Justice Department set a deadline of November 13 for RT to register as a foreign agency based on accusations that the Russian government-funded cable news network and website was a Kremlin propaganda outlet.

The assessment also said RT America "has positioned itself as a domestic US channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian government, " but behind the scenes, "the Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT's coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging due to their ideological beliefs".

In the past, the ministry also has mentioned CNN, which does not receive USA government funds, but is a frequent target of criticism by the Russian government for what it says is anti-Russian bias in its reporting.

In a statement posted to its Facebook account Thursday night, the Russian Embassy in the United States said the Justice Department's decision "created a unsafe precedent".

"The US Department of Justice wheeled out a cannibalistic Monday deadline", she tweeted.

"Blatant pressure on the Russian mass media confirms that the United States pursues the course of deliberately hurting our relations". Memorial, one of Russia's oldest human rights groups, which has for three decades sought to expose Soviet mass killings and arrests, and the Levada Center, an independent polling agency, were registered as foreign agents by Russia's Ministry of Justice.

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