Russian Federation targets U.S. media in row over RT registration

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

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a news briefing that Russia was now considering retaliatory measures against USA media outlets.

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. "We consider its demand as a wish to eliminate an alternative source of information, which is an unacceptable violation of the global norms of free press", the statement said.

He said the Duma may consider a draft on Wednesday. Such a registration would require any reporting to be labeled as being financed or influenced by the Russian government, among other restrictions.

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 USA authorities. The restrictions were criticized by the USA and the European Union.

San Francisco-based social network Twitter has also angered Russian authorities when it accused RT and the Sputnik news outlet of interfering in the 2016 US election and banned them from buying ads on its network. Failure to register could result in the seizure of RT's USA bank accounts and the arrest of the senior editor, Simonyan told Russian news outlets.

Charities and other civil society groups operating in Russian Federation have to register as "foreign agents" if they get any foreign funding.

RT, previously known as Russia Today, disputes that it is an agent of the Kremlin, arguing that it merely offers alternatives to mainstream news coverage.

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In the past, the ministry also has mentioned CNN, which does not receive US government funds, but is a frequent target of criticism by the Russian government for what it says is anti-Russian bias in its reporting.

"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.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment to The Post on Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the broadcaster's American division to register under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) before Nov.13.

The assessment also said RT America "has positioned itself as a domestic USA channel and has deliberately sought to obscure any legal ties to the Russian government, " but behind the scenes, "the Kremlin staffs RT and closely supervises RT's coverage, recruiting people who can convey Russian strategic messaging due to their ideological beliefs".

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.

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