Russian Federation crafting new law forcing U.S. media to register as 'foreign agents'

Russian state-owned television station RT logo is seen at the window of the company's office in Moscow on Oct. 27 2017

RT's registration as a foreign agent follows a months-long back-and-forth with the Justice Department over whether it was required by USA law to register as an agent of the Russian government.

On its Facebook page, the Russian embassy in the USA 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 worldwide standards of press freedom".

Nikolov noted that foreign agent status implies a wide range of measures by the U.S. authorities, but no one knows what exactly can follow after this status is acquired.

The Kremlin-funded channel denies assertions by USA intelligence agencies that it acted as a propaganda arm of the Russian government in efforts to influence last year's presidential election.

"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.

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.

The speaker of the Russian parliament warned on Friday that media from the United States and other countries could be declared "foreign agents" and thus be compelled to declare full details of their finances as well as their funding and staffing.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russian Federation would retaliate, but did not elaborate.

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 its January report, USA intelligence called RT "the Kremlin's principal global propaganda outlet", saying it was part of "Russia's state-run propaganda machine", which had "contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging".

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

"Our law on foreign agents does not apply to media". Groups on the list are subject to tight scrutiny by officials and must place the words "foreign agent" on all their publications, a label that recalls Soviet-era denunciations of spies and fifth-columnists.

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