Putin Targets US Media Outlets With 'Foreign Agent' Law

Phillip Butler
November 28, 2017

President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed into law the new rules which allow any worldwide media outlet to be classified under the controversial "foreign agent" label by the Ministry of Justice.

Putin authorized the law in direct response to the U.S. Department of Justice's insistence earlier this month that RT America register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), which requires the outlet to fork over sensitive financial information.

The new law has been rushed through both Russian houses of parliament in the last two weeks.

File Picture: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017.

The U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were among those on the list. According to Reuters, Mr. Putin is also lashing back in part against the larger issue of the claims against Russian media for interfering with the US presidential election.

Russian officials have called the new legislation a "symmetrical response" to what they describe as USA pressure on Russian media.

The U.S. Justice Department required RT to register in the wake of a January finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that RT and Russia's Sputnik news agency spread disinformation as part of a Russian-government effort to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In September - amid growing political pressure in Washington to do more in response to Russia's election-meddling - the USA told RT it would need to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law passed to limit the reach of pro-Nazi propaganda in America.

Putin's spokesman says the US hampers the Russian news outlets' operation in violation of media freedom, "actions on the basis of the principle of reciprocity can't be excluded". It will now allow Moscow to force foreign media to brand news they provide to Russians as the work of "foreign agents" and to disclose their funding sources. "RFE/RL reporters are subject to harassment and even physical attack in Russian Federation".

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