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

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Russian Federation said Thursday it could begin next week to take measures against U.S. media outlets working in Russian Federation in retaliation for a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to make the Kremlin-funded RT news agency register as a foreign agent.

Russian influence in the US has come under increasing scrutiny in the months following the 2016 presidential elections.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russian Federation would retaliate, but did not elaborate.

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".

Nikolov noted that foreign agent status implies a wide range of measures by the U.S. authorities, but no one knows what exactly can follow after this status is acquired.

Volodin said Russian Federation could extend its own law on foreign agents to foreign media in response to Washington's "hostile" actions.

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

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"These are not media, but propaganda tools with 100 percent funding from the USA budget", Pushkov was quoted as saying. Deputy speaker Sergei Neverov said the amendments would also refer to social networks. "Our lawyers say that if we don't register as a foreign agent, the director of our company in America could be arrested, and the accounts of the company could be seized".

The broadcaster, RT, reported Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice has demanded the registration be done by Monday.

In its January report, US intelligence called RT "the Kremlin's principal worldwide propaganda outlet", saying it was part of "Russia's state-run propaganda machine", which had "contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging".

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.

RT has been singled out as a propaganda outlet in the wake of alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential vote.

In a statement posted to its Facebook account Thursday night, the Russian Embassy in the United States said the Justice Department's decision "created a risky precedent".

The Russian law on foreign agents in recent years has been used on nongovernmental groups that do not toe the Kremlin party line.