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Russian News Site RT To Register As Foreign Agent After US Request

11 November 2017

"What the US authorities are doing today is an infringement of the fundamental rights of citizens and freedom of speech", Vyacheslav Volodin said in a statement, reacting to Washington's demand that Russian State-funded TV station RT, also known as Russia Today, register in the United States as a foreign agent.

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

Russian lawmakers say they are planning a quick approval of legal amendments that would allow a quid pro quo response to a USA demand to the Russian government-funded broadcaster RT to register as a foreign agent.

The current Russian law does not restrict activity, but requires organizations to place the "foreign agent" label on all their documents.

The 2012 Russian law now applies only to non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding and are considered to engage in political activity.

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The Department of Justice originally set a November 13 deadline for RT to register as a foreign agent in the wake of the federal and congressional probes into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Russian Federation is poised to list US media outlets as "foreign agents" by extending legislation used to restrict the activities of civil society groups, in retaliation for an American order requiring state broadcaster RT to register for a similar status.

It was not clear how this label would apply to US media and how it would potentially affect their work, or how many media outlets would be affected. The restrictions were criticized by the USA and the European Union.

San Francisco-based social network Twitter has also angered Russian authorities when it accused RT and the Sputnik news outlet of interfering in the 2016 US election and banned them from buying ads on its network.

"When it comes down to a fight with no rules, when the law is twisted and turned into an instrument for the destruction of a TV company, every step against a Russian media outlet will be met with a corresponding response", she said. In the past, the ministry also has mentioned CNN, which does not receive US government funds, but is a frequent target of criticism by the Russian government for what it says is anti-Russian bias in its reporting.

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Charities and other civil society groups operating in Russian Federation have to register as "foreign agents" if they get any foreign funding.

RT began operations in 2005 under the brand Russia Today, claiming to present the Russian view on global news and to cover stories ignored by mainstream Western news media.

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".

The U.S. intelligence agencies allege that RT served as a tool for the Kremlin to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Russian News Site RT To Register As Foreign Agent After US Request