Putin Targets US Media Outlets With 'Foreign Agent' Law

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When they finally did register, RT acknowledged that its parent company, ANO TV-Novosti, was funded by the Russian government "to a substantial extent", but that the network was "not sufficiently aware of who supervises, owns, directs, controls or subsidizes ANO TV-Novosti" to actually detail those foreign ties.

President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed into law the new rules which allow any global media outlet to be classified under the controversial "foreign agent" label by the Ministry of Justice.

The bill is based on the 2012 law that forced NGOs to adopt a "foreign agent" label if they receive funding from overseas.

Russian officials have called the new legislation a "symmetrical response" to what they describe as USA pressure on Russian media.

Russia's anti-media law is not the first time this month the country has painted groups as so-called foreign agents.

The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were among those on the list.

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The measure was signed in response to a similar measure taken by the US Department of Justice against Russian state-funded broadcaster RT, which claimed last week that it had been requested to register as a foreign agent in the US.

Exactly how (or if) these dueling "foreign agent" designations will actually affect news outlets operating in the US or Russian Federation is not yet clear.

RT's influence in America has come under closer scrutiny following Russia's attempts to interfere in last year's US presidential election, particularly since the USA intelligence community highlighted the network's role in that interference last January. Russian officials have went as far as to spin the Justice Department's requirement as an attack on free speech.

Russian Federation slammed the move as hypocrisy and an attack on media freedom.

Visiting the Moscow bureau of RFE/RL and VOA on November 17, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said that the Russian legislation was a "big concern" for the United States and that "the principles of free media in any free society and democracy are absolutely critical for strength and well-being".

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