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

RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan

RT Chief Editor Margarita Simonyan

The Russian parliament on Friday signaled that it will force some American news outlets working there to register as foreign agents.

It did not give details, but RIA Novosti, the state-operated domestic Russian-language news agency, said Pushkov named CNN, Voice of America and Radio Liberty with its Current Time TV channel as likely targets for retaliation.

Russian Federation is poised to list USA 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.

RT's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said Thursday that the broadcaster has no choice but to comply with the U.S. Justice Department's demand to register as a foreign agent by Monday.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said lawmakers will take up changes to the Russian law on foreign agents to extend it to the media.

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Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of RT, said in a statement that she regarded the requirement as contrary to law and the company meant to challenge it in court.

"It contradicts both the democracy and freedom of speech principles". The restrictions were criticized by the US and the European Union.

Amid continued controversy about Russia's role in trying to influence last year's USA presidential election, Twitter last month banned advertising by RT and by the state-funded Sputnik news agency.

Pyotr Tolstoy, a deputy speaker of the State Duma, suggested that one possibility is that media outlets affected by the new law could be required to include a statement identifying themselves as foreign agents on their social media pages.

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

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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, as provided for in the Russian legislation", the Russian Embassy in the U.S.

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

Russia's embassy in the US denounced the reported Justice Department order.

The Russian law on foreign agents in recent years has been used on nongovernmental groups that do not toe the Kremlin party line.

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