Russian Federation to list USA media as 'foreign agents'

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The decision announced by the Russian Justice Ministry today was enabled by a law adopted by parliament last month permitting the government to declare foreign media as foreign agents, the BBC reports. The designation also includes Current Time TV, which is produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Factograph, a website produced by Radio Liberty.

Moscow applied the controversial '"foreign agent" label to a total of nine media outlets on Tuesday, including the US' official foreign broadcaster Voice of America (VOA), the US-backed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and seven other local outlets ran by the European-based network.

On Monday, a Duma committee moved to propose that any USA media named foreign agents be banned from attending its sessions.

A vote on the measures is expected next week.

The Kremlin has said it fully understands why Russia's parliament plans to discuss banning representatives of United States media organisations in retaliation for what it calls United States mistreatment of Russian media.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in November empowering the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from overseas as "foreign agents" and impose sanctions against them.

The legislation has been condemned by rights groups including Reporters Without Borders, which called the legislation an "eye-for-eye response" that would seriously damage media freedoms.

But Mr Bihr told Sky News there were dangers it could be the beginning of further restrictions.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said in a video statement his organisation was committed to continuing its journalistic work in Russian Federation, but was expecting "even more limitations on the work of our company".

"We remain committed to continuing our journalistic work in the interest of providing accurate and objective news to our Russian speaking audience", he said.

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