Russian Federation to amend law to classify media as 'foreign agents'

Russian Federation to amend law to classify media as 'foreign agents'

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

"This requirement is discriminatory, it contradicts the principles of democracy and freedom of speech, it does not give us equal competition with other foreign TV channels that work in America without being registered as foreign agents", she said.

He said the Duma may consider a draft on Wednesday.

FARA requires registration "if an agent disseminates informational materials, by mail or by any means or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce, and intends the materials to be disseminated among two or more persons".

Russian lawmakers raced Friday to draft measures requiring USA media outlets and possibly social media networks to register as foreign agents, saying they could be adopted as early as next week. "Since such decisions are being made on USA territory in relation to our TV channels, it will be right for us to respond to these actions".

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San Francisco-based social network Twitter has also angered Russian authorities when it accused RT and the Sputnik news outlet of interfering in the 2016 USA election and banned them from buying ads on its network.

"It deprives us of fair competition with other global channels, which are not registered as foreign agents", she was quoted as saying by RT. Simonyan said that RT will comply, otherwise she could be arrested and the news outlet's accounts frozen.

RT denies that it is an agent of the Russian government and says on its site that it offers "stories overlooked by mainstream media" and "alternative perspectives".

"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 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.

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The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the broadcaster's American division to register under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) before Nov.13.

RT has become a focus of the United States investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"... While RT is able to work and distribute its content freely in the U.S., RFE/RL has lost all of its broadcast affiliates in Russian Federation due to administrative pressure, it has no access to cable TV, and its reporters are beaten and harassed", Levison said in an emailed comment.

CNN, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were named as likely targets for the new Russian law. 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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