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

11 November 2017

"So, the law should provide that media, recognized by foreign agents, indicate the relevant information on these pages", Tolstoy said.

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. "This requirement is discriminatory, it contradicts both the principles of democracy and freedom of speech", she said.

Last month, social media giant Twitter took the unprecedented step of banning RT and Sputnik advertisements in response to allegations they were part of a Russian effort to spread misinformation during the 2016 election.

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This is not the first time Russian Federation has criticized the US for taking actions against its media outlets.

On Thursday, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the upper house's Commission on Information Policy and Interaction with Media, held a meeting to discuss the US move and possible retaliatory steps, a Federation Council statement said. "Since such decisions are being made on USA territory in relation to our TV channels, it will be right for us to respond to these actions". Deputy speaker Sergei Neverov said the amendments would also refer to social networks.

FARA requires registration "if an agent disseminates informational materials, by mail or by any means or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce, and intends the materials to be disseminated among two or more persons".

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Moscow responds to a United States demand for RT to register in this category in America. "Between those consequences and registering as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration".

"... While RT is able to work and distribute its content freely in the U.S., RFE/RL has lost all of its broadcast affiliates in Russian Federation due to administrative pressure, it has no access to cable TV, and its reporters are beaten and harassed", Levison said in an emailed comment.

RT began operations in 2005 under the brand Russia Today, claiming to present the Russian view on global news and to cover stories ignored by mainstream Western news media.

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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". 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.

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