Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Washington demands that RT should register as foreign agent by November 13

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the headquarters of the"Russia Today television channel in Moscow in 2013
Andrew Cummings | 11 November, 2017, 01:25

Russian lawmakers say they are planning a quick approval of legal amendments that would allow a quid pro quo response to a US demand to the Russian government-funded broadcaster RT to register as a foreign agent. "The demand is discriminative, it contradicts both the democracy and freedom of speech principles".

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 U.S. media in Russian Federation. It would require RT to label anything it produces - making it clear its reports are distributed on behalf of the Russian state.

Moscow responds to a USA demand for RT to register in this category in America. "I don't rule out it will be done next week", Zakharova told the Rossiya 24 television channel in an interview, the Russian news agency Tass reported.

A Russian senator involved in media policy, Alexei Pushkov, said those USA media organisations "should be subject to restrictions, including their services as part of cable TV packages".

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 restrictions were criticized by the USA and the European Union.

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Russian news media and social media actors have come under scrutiny after USA intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia sought to interfere with the US presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

He said some US media in Russian Federation were trying to turn USA public opinion against Moscow.

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. According to CBS, "failure to register could mean the arrest of the channel's American director and the freezing of its accounts".

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 USA government funds, but is a frequent target of criticism by the Russian government for what it says is anti-Russian bias in its reporting.

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