Russian Federation crafting new law forcing U.S. media to register as 'foreign agents'


Russian Federation ripped the US government on Thursday for requiring its state-sponsored news organization RT to register as a foreign agent, warning of "an immediate symmetrical response". "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", the statement said. "Between those consequences and registering as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration".

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

US intelligence agencies said in January that RT and the news agency Sputnik, along with a network of "quasi-government trolls", interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election on behalf of the Russian government by pushing anti-American propaganda, claims that RT denies.

"Our law on foreign agents doesn't apply to media but since they are taking such measures against our channels in the USA, we should respond to these unfriendly acts", Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said Friday in comments posted on the State Duma's website.

The speaker of the Russian parliament warned on Friday that media from the United States and other countries could be declared "foreign agents" and thus be compelled to declare full details of their finances as well as their funding and staffing. Simonyan said the head of RT's US subsidiary risked detention and the organization's bank accounts could be frozen if it didn't register.

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".

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That much was revealed by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in an interview on Russian television. The Justice Department declined to comment to The Associated Press.

An intelligence report in January alleged the outlet spearheaded "strategic messaging for [the] Russian government", fueling political conflicts in the USA during the 2016 campaign.

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.

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

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.