Russian parliament mulls response to United States move on RT


"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.

On its Facebook page, the Russian embassy in the US said it took the move to mean that the United States is pursuing a "path of conscious deterioration of relations", and that it considers the registration requirement to be "a desire to eliminate the source of alternative information, an unacceptable violation of global standards of press freedom". "It deprives us of fair competition with other worldwide channels, which are not registered as foreign agents".

The Russian media outlets would have to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires persons acting in "political or quasi-political capacity" for foreign interests to disclose information, funding and activities. It would require RT to label anything it produces - making it clear its reports are distributed on behalf of the Russian state.

The U.S. action against RT was taken after U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russian Federation of trying to interfere in last year's U.S. presidential election to help President Donald Trump win the White House, something Moscow has denied.

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 USA election and banned them from buying ads on its network.

In case of failure to comply with this demand within this period of time, the bank accounts of RT America can be frozen, while its head could face arrest.

The measures could include sanctions on USA mass media "beginning with labelling their production as foreign agents and ending with suspension or termination of their activities".

RT denies that it is an agent of the Russian government and says on its site that it offers "stories overlooked by mainstream media" and "alternative perspectives".

Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled that he would sign such a law last month, when he told a conference of foreign policy scholars that Russia would respond immediately and reciprocally to "any efforts to limit our mass media".

"Blatant pressure on the Russian mass media confirms that the United States pursues the course of deliberately hurting our relations", the statement said.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment to The Post on Thursday.

An intelligence report in January alleged the outlet spearheaded "strategic messaging for [the] Russian government", fueling political conflicts in the US during the 2016 campaign.

RT has been singled out as a propaganda outlet in the wake of alleged Russian meddling in the United States presidential vote.