Russia intends to retaliate for the US requiring RT and Sputnik to register as a foreign agents within the United States.
RT, which used to be known as Russia Today, said in a statement on its website on November 9 that it had been given a November 13 deadline by the U.S. Justice Department to register under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). RT said it would go to court to challenge the measure.
The law has been on the books since the 6 September 1938. Allegations of selective enforcement have been brought against the law and is most likely the defense that will be used by RT when mounting their legal defense.
Nov 10, 2017 — 13:27
U.S. media outlets, including CNN, Voice of America and Radio Liberty, may be hit with restrictions in Russia as early as next week as part of an escalating media tit-for-tat between Moscow and Washington.
The Kremlin’s RT news network this week agreed to register as a foreign agent in the United States, following allegations it interfered in the 2016 presidential election. President Vladimir Putin warned the Kremlin would impose restrictions on U.S. media working in Russia in response.
CNN, Voice of America, Radio Liberty and its “Current Time” television channel are likely bear the brunt of the sanctions, Senator Alexei Pushkov, who chairs the Federation Council’s Information Policy Committee, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency Friday.
The State Duma on Friday announced that lawmakers and experts were drafting amendments to Russia’s controversial foreign agent law to include media organizations.
The 2012 foreign agent law requires non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding to register as “foreign agents.”
The Duma said the new drafts would be ready by Monday and may go through the first of three readings on Wednesday.
On Thursday, RT said that it faces a new deadline — Monday, Nov. 13 — to comply with the 1930s law which would require it to brand itself as a foreign lobbyist.
Editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said that the head of RT America could be arrested and the channel’s assets seized if it failed to register.
“Between these consequences and registration as a foreign agent, we are forced to choose registration,” Simonyan said on RT. “Although, of course, we categorically disagree with this requirement.”
Moscow’s retaliatory measures could come as early as next week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned on state-run television on Thursday.
“Let’s unpack the surprise in parts,” Zakharova said when asked by a state television host whether U.S. newspapers would have to pack their bags.
President Vladimir Putin vowed a tit-for-tat response if RT America or Sputnik, another Kremlin-controlled site, faced pressure in the U.S.