Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill allowing Russia to register global media outlets as foreign agents in a quid pro quo to the USA demand made to a Kremlin-funded TV channel. The move comes not long after multiple Russian officials threatened retaliatory action in response the USA government's recent decision to force Russia Today, a state-owned Russian media company, to register as a foreign agent.
USA authorities accused Russian media outlets of influencing public opinion during the 2016 presidential election by spreading fake news.
Media outlets that will be deemed "foreign agents" will have to comply with the same laws as non-profits deemed as such.
It was specifically accused of spreading false information during the 2016 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".
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied meddling in the election and said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech. The US government forced them to registry as "foreign agents". "The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing FARA and expects compliance with the law by all entities engaged in specified activities on behalf of any foreign principal, regardless of its nationality". RT's editor-in-chief visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in August 2013, where they discussed renewing his broadcast contract with RT, according to Russian and Western media.
The law has been rushed through both Russian parliaments in the past two weeks in response to what the Kremlin describes as unacceptable pressure on Russian media outlets in the United States. RT and Sputnik were singled out by the European Parliament in 2016 as Russian propaganda outlets posing a danger to European unity. The Russian Federation Council approved it on November 22. "Its application will begin with the USA media, but if Europeans will resort to the same practices against Russian media as the United States does, they will receive a similar answer".
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