Moscow plans new 'restrictions' on USA media working in Russian Federation

Russian state-owned television station RT logo is seen at the window of the company's office in Moscow on Oct. 27 2017

Russian state-owned television station RT logo is seen at the window of the company's office in Moscow on Oct. 27 2017

The company was sent a letter in September from the DOJ claiming that it must register as a foreign agent because of its affiliation with the Russian government.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said lawmakers will consider changing the Russian law on foreign agents to extend it to the media.

The threat of retaliation against US media from the Kremlin is the latest in a diplomatic standoff that has resulted in both Moscow and Washington being forced to reduce embassy staff and give up diplomatic compounds.

The chief editor of a Kremlin-funded satellite TV channel says the network will accede to a US demand to register as a foreign agent but also intends to challenge the order in court.

Simonyan said on RT's Russian-language website that "between such consequences and registration as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration".

RT's network is available on cable in the U.S. and Sputnik has an FM radio station in the U.S. Both have websites that are accessible in the U.S. Though the U.S. funds news organizations in Russian Federation such as Radio Free Europe and Current, those outlets are not available on radio or on cable but are normally accessed via the internet.

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According to the most recent report filed with the Justice Department, at least five foreign media outlets have registered under FARA, including broadcasters from Canada, Korea, Japan, and others.

She added: "We will continue to work and continue to fight this as long as it's possible".

Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of both RT and the Russian outlet Sputnik, called this action by the USA government "illegal". "Although, of course, we categorically disagree with this requirement". FARA experts told CNN in October that though jail and asset seizure is rare, it can happen in certain cases. Yahoo News has separately reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed a former Sputnik correspondent about his work at the website.

A US intelligence report has said that RT was one of the primary conduits through which the Kremlin sought to influence the 2016 USA presidential election.

"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", the Russian embassy posted. "We consider its demand as a wish to eliminate an alternative source of information, which is an unacceptable violation of the worldwide norms of free press", the post said.

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 unsafe precedent". An RT spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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