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

The chief editor of a Kremlin-funded satellite TV channel says the network will accede to a US demand to register as a foreign agent but also intends to challenge the order in court.

She said the demands contradicted both democracy and freedom of speech.

Charities and other civil society groups operating in Russian Federation have to register as "foreign agents" if they get any foreign funding.

The speaker of the State Duma, Russia's lower house, Friday asked the house committees to prepare a legislative response to the "U.S. pressure on Russian media".

The Kremlin-funded channel denies assertions by US intelligence agencies that it acted as a propaganda arm of the Russian government in efforts to influence last year's presidential election.

"All actions of American media outlets indicate that their policy and positions are totally unfriendly and that this interference is absolutely undisguised", Volodin said.

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USA and any other foreign media that fall under the new restrictions could have to regularly disclose to Russian authorities full details of their funding, finances and staffing and might be obliged to say on their social media profiles and internet sites visible in Russia that they are "foreign agents".

A senior lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party, Sergei Neverov, told reporters that the new measures could include social networks.

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".

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. "We consider its demand as a wish to eliminate an alternative source of information, which is an unacceptable violation of the worldwide norms of free press".

In its January report, USA intelligence called RT "the Kremlin's principal global propaganda outlet", saying it was part of "Russia's state-run propaganda machine", which had "contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging".

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. The decision came in the wake of investigations into Kremlin attempts to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election. 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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