Russia Acts to Name US Media as 'Foreign Agents' in RT Dispute

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Volodin's address to the Duma signaled that the Russian government now plans to treat US media in Russia as agents of the United States seeking to meddle in Russian affairs.

Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy speaker of the Duma in charge of information policy, said on his Facebook account that the retaliatory measures might also be applied to foreign social media networks. "The demand is discriminative, it contradicts both the democracy and freedom of speech principles".

The U.S. action against RT was taken after U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russian Federation of trying to interfere in last year's U.S. presidential election to help President Donald Trump win the White House, something Moscow has denied.

Russian Federation is poised to list US media outlets as "foreign agents" by extending legislation used to restrict the activities of civil society groups, in retaliation for an American order requiring state broadcaster RT to register for a similar status.

The government of Russian Federation in a tit-for-tat response to U.S.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russian Federation would retaliate, but did not elaborate.

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USA government-sponsored Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) said last month Moscow had threatened to brand their Russian language service projects "foreign agents" in retaliation for US pressure on RT.

"Every media now has its own pages in social networks, which also publish their news, articles and videos". Failure to register could result in the seizure of RT's US bank accounts and the arrest of the senior editor, Simonyan told Russian news outlets. "Between those consequences and registering as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration".

Russian Federation in 2012 passed a controversial law that requires foreign funded non-governmental organizations to register as foreign agents.

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