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Putin Signs Anti-Foreign Media Law After RT Registers As 'Foreign Agent'
28 November 2017, 01:15 | Ruben Fields
Russia's Putin signs 'foreign agents' media law
The Russian law classing worldwide media organisations operating in the country as "foreign agents" is a "threat to free and independent media", the European Union said on Sunday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an anti-foreign media law after the Trump administration forced a Russian-owned media outlet to register as a "foreign agent". The rivalry between Russia and the US continues to deepen as the USA alleges that Russian efforts swayed the election while Russia claims infringement of free speech.
The bill is based on the 2012 law that forced NGOs to adopt a "foreign agent" label if they receive funding from overseas.
The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were also on the list.
According to the USA intelligence community, RT's American channel is staffed, supervised, and financed by the Kremlin, and "has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged United States shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties" in an effort to influence Americans.
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"The "foreign agent" legislation goes against Russia's human rights obligations and commitments, and the extension of its scope to foreign media..." The move is Russia's retaliation after state-funded RT television was registered with the U.S. Justice Department as a foreign agent following pressure from Washington. It's yet not clear if Russian Federation will target traditional US news organizations as well.
The law was fast-tracked through parliament during the past two weeks, and allows Moscow to force foreign media to brand their news content as the work of "foreign agents".
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.
Putin and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied meddling in the election, and claim the DOJ's pressure on Russian broadcasters is an attack on free speech.
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