Russian Federation targets USA media in row over RT registration

11 November, 2017, 01:22 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan

The Duma earlier this year launched an investigation into whether CNN, Voice of America, Radio Liberty and "other American media" were complying with Russian law.

"It deprives us of fair competition with other global channels, which are not registered as foreign agents", said RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan.

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, said Friday he had ordered a committee to develop a counter-response "to allow us to take steps to protect the citizens of our country and our country itself from overt interference" of United States media in Russian Federation.

On its Facebook page, the Russian embassy in the US said it took the move to mean that the United States is pursuing a "path of conscious deterioration of relations", and that it considers the registration requirement to be "a desire to eliminate the source of alternative information, an unacceptable violation of global standards of press freedom".

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Amid continued controversy about Russia's role in trying to influence last year's US presidential election, Twitter last month banned advertising by RT and by the state-funded Sputnik news agency. It would require RT to label anything it produces - making it clear its reports are distributed on behalf of the Russian state.

On Thursday, RT Managing Director Alexey Nikolov said at a meeting of the Provisional Commission of Russia's Federation Council (upper house of parliament) on Information Policy and Media Interaction that he had not registered as a foreign agent in the United States within the period of time set by the U.S. authorities.

The status, which applies to several state-owned outlets operating in the US including Japan's NHK and the China Daily newspaper, requires disclosure of the media organization's foreign funding. The restrictions were criticized by the US and the European Union.

On Thursday, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the upper house's Commission on Information Policy and Interaction with Media, held a meeting to discuss the USA move and possible retaliatory steps, a Federation Council statement said.

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Russian Federation will adopt "broader" measures which "may include social media networks", a top pro-Kremlin MP said.

Russian news media reported in October that the upper house of the Russian parliament had drawn up a blacklist of at least five US media outlets whose activities in Russia could be restricted in response.

Simonyan said the head of RT's USA subsidiary risked detention and the organization's bank accounts could be frozen if it didn't register. "Between those consequences and registering as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration".

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.

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